It is hard to believe but it is that holiday time of year again. Time really flies, doesn’t it? Have you gotten your New Year’s resolutions picked out yet? I’m not going to talk about whether you kept last year’s resolutions or not, but I do have a few suggestions for this year. Why not choose a few resolutions to be a safer boater? If you are wondering what changes you can make this year, you have come to the right place. Here are some things that you can do to become a safer boater:

  • Check boat safety equipment monthly – Safety equipment sometimes gets ignored on our boats. It is probably because we rarely use it (except for life jackets and VHF radio of course). This makes it easy to forget they are there. The moment that you need a piece of safety equipment is the wrong time to find out that it does not work. A monthly check will ensure that this does not happen.
  • Take a boating safety course – You never know how much you don’t know until you learn it. A boating safety course is a great way to learn how to be a safe and confident boater. Both Atlanta’s Boating Club and your local Coast Guard Auxiliary both offer high quality boating safety classes taught by certified instructors. Search for both groups online.
  • Maintain a sober boating policy – Getting stopped and charged with boating under the influence can really ruin a day out on the water. And it can hit your finances as well. Having an accident is even worse. Be sober when operating a vessel.
  • Learn basic first aid – It is always recommended that you have a first aid kit on board your vessel. Do you know what to do with it? Do you know how to deal with someone that has a head injury or a broken limb? Do you know CPR? Basic first aid can save a life. Maybe even the life of someone you love.
  • Regularly check navigation lights – Imagine leaving the dock or the boat ramp during the day and all is well. It is such a beautiful day, that you stay out on the water well past dark. When it is time to head back, you start the engine and flip the switch for your nav lights and nothing happens. Your nav lights don’t work. It has happened to me. Running a check of your nav lights prior to heading out could have prevented this mishap.
  • Learn your boat’s systems – You may not be mechanically inclined but it’s not that hard to do simple tasks like checking engine oil or battery connections. The ability to do these things will allow you to ensure that your boat is ready to go. This can prevent breakdowns on the water which can put you, your family and your vessel in potential danger. It can also save you some money. You don’t have to be a mechanic. Just be smart.

Remember, prioritizing safety enhances the enjoyment of your boating experience. We are all out there to have some fun. Let’s not ruin it by forgetting about safety.  Happy New Year and have a happy, safe boating year.