If you’re a new boater or sailor, be prepared to have the time of your life, especially when you navigate the pristine waters of Lake Wedowee. Through all the excitement, however, don’t forget to observe safety precautions and act responsibly, not only for your own protection but your passengers’ as well.
Here are some important safety tips to consider:
Have the right life jackets for every person onboard
The US Coast Guard requires that there should be an approved life jacket or Personal Flotation Device for every person on a boat. Adults don’t need to wear them all the time, but kids 8 years and younger should always have them on. The life jackets have to be the right fit for each person and must be able to hold their weight. In addition, the Coast Guard also requires boats 16 feet and over to have at least one throwable Type IV PFD, which is designed to be thrown to someone who might have gone overboard.
Take a boater safety course
Alabama requires all boat operators to obtain a state Boat Operators Certificate, which is granted only to those who pass a proficiency test or have completed a boater safety course approved by the Alabama Marine Patrol Division. In addition to meeting the Certificate requirement, taking a boater safety course is highly recommended to get familiar with boating rules and safety procedures.
Always bring your boat registration
You must always be prepared to show your boat registration when the Coast Guard or any other authority asks for it. Keep it in a safe, dry place while on your boat. All motorized watercraft in Alabama, with some exceptions, must be registered. For more information about this, see this page.
Have a first aid kit handy
A first aid kit is essential in attending to injuries, especially when you’re far from shore. Be as thorough as possible in putting the kit together —it might prove to be a lifesaver. Keep it protected in a waterproof case, preferably with a reflective material that will make it easy to find even in the dark.
Always have a fresh fire extinguisher
Be prepared for all kinds of emergencies, including a fire. Have a fire extinguisher on board, and make sure you know how to use it.
Keep and follow a pre-departure checklist
Using a pre-departure checklist will help you make sure you have all the gear and devices you need and have done a thorough inspection of the boat before you leave port. Include a weather check on the list, as well as a ventilation and fuel check.
Always follow boating rules and regulations
Keep in mind that these regulations were created for your safety and the safety of other boaters, so following them is important. Watch out for buoys and other navigational markers, and always respect navigation rules to avoid accidents. Here’s a link to Alabama’s Boating Rules and Regulations.