Other than the colors of trees and cooler temperatures, what’s different about boating in the fall? A lot, according to the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, especially when it comes your safety aboard. One big issue is there are fewer boats – often the quickest pathway to a rescue – on the water, so flagging down a good Samaritan just got harder. So what’s your plan to stay safe? Here are five fall boating safety tips.
- Always leave a float plan. It could be as simple as advising a family member or friend where you’re going, what time you expect to return, and picking a time for them to act if you fail to call or text them to advise of your safe return.
- Be certain your VHF is working, and if the antenna is on a folding mount, ensure it is in the upright position before you leave the dock.
- While using a cellphone aboard your boat to summon emergency help has become common, it requires boaters to remember to ensure their phone is fully charged and remains dry. For nonemergency on-water towing and assistance, download the free BoatUS App, which connects you to the closest local TowBoatUS towing captain.
- Ensure you know where your signaling equipment is located such as handheld flares or aerial signals. They should be in good condition and not expired. Boaters often forget to ensure their boat has the required sound-producing device.
- If you’re solo boating in an area with questionable cellphone coverage, consider purchasing or renting Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon.