How can I lower my injury risk while boating?

As summer draws near, you may be thinking of spending time on the Chesapeake Bay or on a quiet Maryland lake sailing. Every year, people are injured or killed while enjoying the water, but there are things that you and your family can do to lower your risk of harm.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one of these is to educate yourself on the dangers of carbon monoxide. This poisoning can occur anywhere inside a boat’s cabin so you should make sure that your vessel has carbon monoxide detectors installed, and that there is plenty of ventilation with open portholes and other air systems.

Understanding how to operate your boat correctly can also protect you. This includes navigation as well as operation and can be obtained through taking a boat education course. Additionally, you and other passengers on your boat should always wear a life jacket. It can be tempting to disregard this safety gear and you probably have seen many people on boats in just swimwear or shorts. However, if a boat accident happens, that jacket will help you float on the water until help arrives. When choosing life jackets, they should be properly fitted and if you have children on the boat, you should make sure that the jacket is for their specific size.

Before you take the boat out of the slip, you should take the time to have it inspected for any potential dangers. The engine should be properly serviced and tested to make sure that it is running as it should. The worst thing that could happen is to have an engine catch fire while you’re in the middle of the bay.

Finally, one of the most important rules that you should establish is the avoidance of consuming alcohol. The CDC points out that even when a boat is just drifting, anchored or docked, an accident can happen and the fatality rate for these situations is at 46 percent. It is illegal to drive a boat while intoxicated and it’s important to remember that alcohol mixed with heat and sun exposure can be a lethal combination.

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