Minnesota Boating Safety Tips To Protect You and Your Family

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it’s our motto, so of course our seasonable weekends will be spent exploring any one of those forest-lined waterscapes. However, when taking the boat out for a day of fun with the family, it is crucial that you stay safe. With so many lakes, accidents can happen, but many can be avoided by taking the right safety precautions. If you are looking to boat safely with your family in Minnesota, keep some of these tips in mind.

Wear a Life Jacket

Life jackets are uncomfortable at times, but they can save your life when you really need them. That is why, even after all these years, wearing a life jacket is still the number one safety tip when boating on the water. Lead by example to your family and always wear your life jacket, assuring that you kids always wear theirs. Children without a life jacket on can slip under the water quickly and quietly in the event of a serious accident.

Stay Sober

It may be tempting to crack open a few beers while fishing, but booze and boating don’t mix. Not only is alcohol involved in most boating fatalities in Minnesota, but if you are above the .08 limit that impairs you to operate a car, you also shouldn’t be driving a boat. Being above the legal limit can net you a heavy fine or jail time for a BWI (Boating While Intoxicated). If you want to avoid crossing the law and keep your family safe all at the same time, save those drinks for another time.

Leave a Float Plan

It is recommended that before going out for a day of boating that you leave a float plan so people know where you went and where to look if you go missing. However, you don’t need to write a note like you are going off on some sort of multi-month adventure around the world. You should, but a float plan can be as simple as telling a co-worker your weekend plans or calling your mother (because you should) and casually weaving it into the conversation.

Keeps Hands on the Steering

Every year there is a series of boating accidents that are result of what is referred to as “the circle of death,” and it is every bit as ominous as it sounds. The circle of death comes about when the boater suddenly takes their hands off the steering wheel or outboard steering handle while the boat is speeding along. This causes the steering torque to slam to the left and the resulting force throwing passengers overboard. While being tossed overboard is pretty bad, the worse part comes when the boat circles around and hits whoever was thrown in the water, knocking them unconscious or causing horrific propeller wounds.

Prepare for Common Boating Accidents

You don’t want to think about them happening, but accidents do happen. Instead of hoping that they don’t, why not instead know what to do if they do? Common boating accidents include:

  • Flooding, capsizing, or the sinking of your vessel
  • Passengers slipping or falling on the boat or overboard
  • Fire or explosion onboard or of a vessel
  • Insufficient safety equipment (lack thereof or poorly maintained so as to result in injury)

The best thing you can do in case of any emergency is to have the safety equipment you need to keep your passengers safe, and having items like GPS, compass, emergency flares, first aid kit, ect in one easy to reach place so you can grab them quickly. After an emergency, it is just a matter of getting your passengers to safety and flagging down help.

Check Weather Conditions Frequently

Storms over Minnesota’s many lakes can get devastatingly fierce and can blow up quickly. Be sure to check the forecast before a day out on the boat just so you don’t get caught on the water in the middle of a lightning storm. As weather can sometimes happen unexpectedly, always keep an eye on the clouds or have a radio available so you can get weather updates while on the water.

Get a Free Vessel Safety Check

The US Coast Guard offers boaters a free vessel safety check, and all boaters should take advantage of it, even if you think you know everything about your boat. The specialists will check the presence and condition of safety gar aboard, make sure your boat is in tip-top shape, and assure everything is up to state and federal regulation. It is free and it keeps your family safe, so why not?

Take a Boating Safety Course

When you are out on the water with your family, safety should be the primary focus, followed closely by fun. However, there are so many things that you need to know about boating safety that it is best to learn from a professional. You may be able to find some boating safety classes in your local area, but they are also offered online where you can learn to spot and avoid the many water hazards found in the state.

Teach Your Children

You lead by example with safety gear and became a guru with your boating safety course, but you don’t have a hundred eyes in your head to spot every danger. Why keep your knowledge of boating safety to yourself? Share it with your kids. Not only will they know it if they go out boating with their friend’s families, but they can be an extra set of eyes to watch out for dangers in the water.

Try as you might to prepare, boating accidents happen. Sometimes it is not always your fault, but it is due to the negligence of others. If you have been injured as the result of someone else’s lack of boating safety, contact us today.