As we are slowly coming out of winter and moving to spring, my family and I are looking forward to getting back on the water this summer! We have owned our boat for 8 years now, and we have enjoyed the relaxing times it has provided. We boat in many waterways including here on the Illinois River, on the Fox River up in the Chicago suburbs, in Northern Wisconsin, and even on Lake Michigan. Our daughter has grown up on the boat and even went water-skiing when she was 4 years old! Although, that was up in Wisconsin – not with the flying carp!
While boating is a lot of fun, there are a lot of safety concerns when out on the water. Some of the things to bear in mind are:
- Keep an eye on the weather. You don’t want to be caught in open water during a severe storm. With the technology today, your smartphone can be the best resource if you see dark clouds on the horizon. If in doubt, just get off the water!
- Children must wear life jackets at all times when a boat is underway. Here in Illinois, this is for any child under 13 on boats less than 26 feet in length. Most life jackets today are U.S. Coast Guard-approved. There is a label inside a life jacket that will give you this information. There also need to be life jackets on board the boat for all adults.
- Just like when we drive a car, where there are rules of the road, there are navigation rules on the water as well. If there is a boat coming at you, each boat is to bear to the right to avoid a collision. You also need to be mindful of buoys and no wake-zones in any waterway in which you travel.
- Get boat insurance. Just like car insurance, this is to protect you from loss due to damage to the boat and also for liability if anyone is injured while on your boat. There is also a service that we have called Boat U.S.® They will tow us in if we get stranded on any waterway with no cost to us. It’s like emergency roadside on the water!
All of this information and more can be found at www.discoverboating.com and through your state’s Department of Natural Resources. If you are new to boating, a boating safety class is the best idea to get you familiar with everything you will need to know to operate you boat safely—and the whole family should attend so that everyone knows what to do while on the boat.
I know my family and I are hoping for a great summer! National Safe Boating Week is May 17 to 23, 2014. Be safe on the water and happy boating!
Caryn, Personal Lines Claim Representative I