As families and friends gather to celebrate Independence Day on the lakes this weekend, keep safety a priority. Make sure safety is your focus whether boating, swimming or relaxing by the water both this weekend and all summer long. Check out these tips below from safety experts to ensure you are prepared for a safe and enjoyable time at the lake.
Provided by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
- Check your boat. Many people put their boats in the water without first checking belts, fluids and motors, and end up having to be towed in. Make sure your boat is in good working order before taking it out for the first time.
Often boaters take their safety equipment out of the boat for the winter season. Make sure all required equipment is put on the boat and is in good working order.
- Make sure all life jackets are in good working order. All straps, buckles and zippers need to be operational, and the life jackets cannot have any rips or tears.
- An informed boater is a safe boater. By learning the boating laws and the rules of the road, you can make better decisions on the water, keeping yourself and your passengers safe. Boating classes are offered around the state and in Alabama, if you drive a boat, you must have an operator’s license.
- From the time you start to tow the boat to the launching ramp until the time you take it out at night, courtesy plays a big part in the boating adventure. Remember the golden rule and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Be careful of your wake, both around homes and around other boaters. Don’t tie up the launching ramp while loading equipment on and off your boat.
- Keep an eye on weather. Storms can come up quickly, especially in the summertime, so keep an eye to the sky. Watch for temperature changes, shifts in wind patterns and changes in cloud formations. All these can signal storms moving in. If caught in a storm, try to get to the nearest safe shelter. If you have to ride the storm out on the water, have everyone put on a life jacket and get as close to the centerline as possible, keep the bow of the boat to the wind, and ride the waves at a 45 degree angle.
- Be aware of what other boaters are doing around you. Even if you have the right-of -way, if the other boater doesn’t give way to your vessel, you give way! Especially keep an eye out for boaters on Jet Skis, Sea Doo etc. Being smaller, they tend to get overlooked by other boaters.
- Just like on the highway, drinking and operating a boat is against the law. In many ways, it can be even more dangerous. Boaters tend to get a condition called boater’s fatigue, caused by the glare of the sun, action of the waves and general tiredness, towards the end of the day. Adding alcohol to this can create a deadly combination
POOL AND WATER SAFETY
- Anywhere there is water, there is a danger of drowning–never swim alone!
- Drowning usually occurs very quickly and silently.
- An adult must always watch children closely–this means no reading, talking on the phone, or texting!
- An adult should be within an arm’s reach away from infants, toddlers, and weaker swimmers.
- The area around the pool can be slippery–never run, always walk.
- Enter shallow water feet first–it is never ok to dive into water less than 9 feet deep.
WATER AND ELECTRICITY SAFETY
Provided by the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
- Never allow swimming near the boat, marina, or launching ramp. Residual current could flow into the water from the boat, or the marina’s wiring, potentially putting anyone in the water at risk of Electric Shock Drowning.
- Be sure your boat is properly maintained and consider having it inspected annually. GFCI’s (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and ELCI’s (Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter) should be tested monthly to ensure functionality. Conduct leakage testing to determine if electrical current is escaping the vessel.
- Never use household cords near water. Use only portable GFCIs or shore power cords (including “Y” adapters) that are “UL (Underwriters Laboratories)- Marine Listed” when using electricity near water.
- Know where your main breaker(s) are located on both the boat and the shorepower source so that you can respond quickly in case of an emergency. Be aware of any potential electrical hazards by checking for nearby power lines before boating, fishing, or swimming.
- Regularly (we recommend annually) have your boat’s electrical system and the electrical system to your dock are inspected and upgraded by a certified marine electrician to be sure it meets your local and state NEC, NFPA, and ABYC safety codes and standards.
- If you feel any tingling sensations while in the water, tell someone and swim back in the direction from which you came. Immediately report it to the dock or marina owner.
- The sun is strongest between 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Limit the amount of time spent outside during these hours.
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, 30 minutes before going outside–reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Two or more sunburns before the age of 18 doubles one’s risk of later developing melanoma.
BARBECUE AND FIRE SAFETY
- Keep grills at least 10 feet from other objects, including the house and bushes.
- Keep children away from the grill and never leave it unattended.
- Never use the grill inside a home or garage.
- Store propane tanks in the garage, not in the house!
- Most fires are started by children when they are left alone or unsupervised.
- Fireworks that cause the most injuries are firecrackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets.
- Never allow children to play with fireworks, even sparklers, as these can reach 2000 degrees!
Wearable life jackets for everyone on board. They must be:
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
- Sized to fit and in good condition (no rips, tears or missing parts).
- Accessible (not stored in a locker or closed compartment).
- Worn by children under 8 years old.
- Worn by anyone on a personal watercraft or being towed on skis/tube
- Worn by anyone within 800 feet below a hydroelectric dam or navigational lock or dam.
- U.S. Coast Guard-approved extinguishers are required for boats with:
- Inboard or inboard/outboard motors.
- Enclosed or permanently mounted gas tanks.
- Closed or semi-closed cabins or sleeping quarters.
- Any other fuel-consuming device such as a lantern or stove.