In a recent episode of The Commute podcast, Georgia DNR official Mark McKinnon outlined tips they share with boaters before they set sail and what to think about before leaving the dock.
Boat Safety Tip #1: Pay Attention
“We always say that common courtesy is the first thing to consider when you’re out there in your boat, it’s just important that you pay attention. We talk about distracted drivers on the roadways, distracted boaters is a problem too.
“Often, you’re in a lot more open space when you’re in a boat, so you feel more comfortable, not paying as much attention. But that can not be a good thing for sure.”
Boat Safety Tip #2: Keep an eye on children
“I always like to mention that real close to the front end of a conversation that I have, because we have a real problem (with) certain times of the year where supervision would have prevented a drowning somewhere. You can’t take your eyes off those little ones for a second. I mean, anybody who’s had children know — they can get away really quick and without you even knowing where they are.
“Don’t assume that somebody else on the beach or in the in the pool area, or wherever you are, don’t assume somebody else is watching your children. You need to keep your eyes on them, don’t be buried up in your iPad or your phone, or whatever.
“Keep your eyes on those kids.”
Boat Safety Tip #3: Life jackets are imperative
“Put those life jackets on kids. I mean, gosh, come on, they need that floatation because even if they can swim at a young age, they are likely to get tired very quickly and it doesn’t take very deep water for it to be over their heads. So take care of those kids.
“Be sure on your boat, you have the proper safety equipment. It’s required by law that you have a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on that boat. It must have that life jacket, you must have a fire extinguisher that is serviceable and charged properly.”
What are ways new boaters can learn about safety tips ahead of hitting the water?
Georgia DNR official Mark McKinnon offers some boater education tips for new boaters to check out before going on the water.
Savannah Morning News
Boat Safety Tip #4: You must have a device that you can throw in the water in case of emergency
“You must have a throwable device, something that you could throw to someone in the water if they needed help. Those are the minimum requirements there. Be sure that life jacket, especially for adults, is in a location where you can get to it. We recommend you wear it. It used to be that life jackets were so big and bulky, and uncomfortable and hot. Now, they make life jackets that are much more comfortable, much smaller, and will certainly do the job.
“We just recommend you wear it. Every one of our game wardens does not leave the dock without their light jacket on and they keep them on continuously. So that’s something I recommend now.
“Also, keep in mind, children under 13 must be wearing that light jacket. If that boat is in motion, if that boat is moving in any way; and I’m not just talking about under power, or if it’s drifting, if it’s under sail, if it’s not anchored or tied to something, they have to have that life jacket on. And it is so important (again) that you take care of those children.”
Zach Dennis is the editor of the arts and culture section and weekly Do Savannah alt-weekly publication at the Savannah Morning News and can be reached at [email protected]