Top 3 Boating Safety Tips

Boating is a popular recreational activity in Missouri, with numerous lakes and waterways throughout the state. However, boating can be dangerous; the Missouri Department of Public Safety reported 28 deaths and 122 injuries in recreational boating crashes in Missouri in 2020.

Of the 234 boat operators involved in accidents in 2020, 57% had no boater education. Learning boating safety is essential for every boater in Missouri. Besides taking a boating safety class to learn the basic rules, creating a float plan and knowing how to handle emergencies can help you stay safe on the water.

  1. Make a Float Plan

A float plan is an essential component of boating safety. This document outlines your intended route, the duration of your trip, and crucial contact information. It is a vital communication tool between you and someone staying ashore, such as a family member or a friend, who can notify the authorities in an emergency.

To create an effective float plan, include the following information:

  • Name, address, and contact information for the person staying ashore
  • Details about your vessel, such as make, model, length, color, and registration number
  • The names and contact information of everyone on board
  • Departure and arrival locations, with expected departure and return times
  • A detailed description of your intended route and any planned stops

Remember to update your float plan if your plans change during the trip. Once you return safely, don’t forget to notify the person staying ashore to close the loop.

  1. Know How to Rescue Someone Who Falls Overboard

Falling overboard is a serious hazard, and knowing how to rescue someone in such a situation is a crucial skill for any boater. In 2021, boating accidents caused 46 accidental drowning incidents in state waters.

When a person falls overboard, it is essential to act quickly and follow these steps:

  • Keep your eyes on the person in the water at all times
  • Reduce the boat’s speed and turn the engine off
  • Throw a floatation device, such as a life ring or cushion, to the person in the water
  • Maneuver the boat close to the person in the water, approaching from the leeward side to minimize the risk of injury from the propeller
  • Instruct the person to hold onto the floatation device or the boat’s ladder
  • Once the person is safely back on board, assess their condition and provide first aid if possible

Ensuring that everyone on board is wearing a life jacket is crucial. They can keep you afloat and provide insulation in cold water, allowing you to stay alive until rescue arrives.

For example, a 2018 study found a 35% increase in survival for those wearing life jackets rescued after 10 minutes. At 120 minutes, life jackets showed an 80% increase in survival rates.

Boaters should also familiarize themselves with the various types of life jackets and choose the appropriate one for the conditions and their activities.

  1. Get an MMSI Digit Number

An MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number is a special, nine-digit number for your vessel that can enhance your boating safety. This number is used by the U.S. Coast Guard and other search and rescue agencies to identify and track your boat in case of an emergency.

An MMSI number can improve rescue times if your boat becomes lost or capsized, allowing rescue workers to quickly find you and your party and take you to safety.

To obtain an MMSI number, install a VHF marine radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capabilities on your boat. After installing the radio, you can apply for an MMSI number through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or an organization authorized by the FCC.

Once you have your MMSI number, program it into your radio and test it to ensure it is working correctly.

Navigating Missouri Waters Safely

Boating in Missouri can be a fun and relaxing experience if you are prepared and follow essential safety measures. If you or a loved one is involved in a boating accident, our experienced boat accident attorneys at Cofman Townsley can help you get compensation for your injuries.

We understand Missouri’s rules and regulations for boaters and can help you determine who is liable for your injuries and seek compensation through a boating accident claim.

Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.