Boat safety 101 – When trying to wrap your head around how to ensure your boat is safe there are seven suggested areas to cover. These are the components that will enable you to create a truly safe boating environment.
Research the boating rules and regulations where you will be boating or sailing. The Federal/State/Country rules and regs will list the required safety equipment, licenses, certificates, etc. Failure to become compliant will result in heavy fines and you can potentially have your boat impounded.
2. Inventory & Service Record
Make an inventory of all your safety equipment. List the item type, amount, location, and last/next service date (if required). For example, 10 adult life jackets are located under the navigation desk seat. Last service date Oct 22/Next Oct 23. On Britican, we have just over 25 safety equipment items listed on a table helping us to easily identify where items are, how many we have, and when we need to service them.
To get our list, request a copy of our FREE Boat Safety Audit here.
3. Safety Equipment User Knowledge
It’s one thing to have safety equipment and another to know how to use it. If you have a liferaft but don’t know how to deploy it, or what you need to do once it’s deployed, what’s the point of even having it? For every piece of safety equipment you have, it’s imperative to know how it works and whether or not it needs routine servicing. An EPIRB with a dead battery isn’t going to help you if your lost floating at sea! Make sure to have all the instructions for the safety equipment you have.
4. Safety Procedures
For every common boat safety 101 issue, it’s imperative to have a solid procedure on how to handle it. Common boat safety issues to consider are man overboard, grounding, collision, fire, taking on water, engine failure, rig failure, abandoning ship, etc. Note that these things rarely happen but they do happen so having a procedure will enable you to know what to do if/when required.
5. Safety Policies
These are ‘my boat, my rules.’ We have policies about when and when not to wear shoes. Another policy is lifejackets – we have quite a few rules about when and when not to wear them. Policies help you to lay the safety rules down so that everyone knows what they can and cannot do. Some come from rules and regulations and others we make up ourselves. Make sure you have a set of policies document. Keep your policies with your inventory and service record in addition to your user instructions and procedures.
6. Safety Checklists
Prior to passages, you’ll want to complete routine engine checks, below deck safety checks, and above deck safety checks. When you have new guests on board you’ll want to bring them through a safety briefing explaining how to fit the lifejacket, when they are required, what to do in an emergency, and so forth. A few well-constructed safety checklists will help you keep your safety equipment in top shape. Additionally, checklists can help you inform new guests of your safety systems and help everyone to find issues before they become disasters.
7. Your Boat Safety Manual (unique to your boat)
Construct a manual holding the safety inventory, equipment user instructions, procedures, policies, and safety checklists so that all passengers can easily locate and understand how and when to use the safety equipment.
Your manual can be used as a resource on how to find the necessary equipment, use it, and the procedure required to handle all common boat challenges.
FREE Boat Safety Audit
When it comes to avoiding boat safety 101 mistakes the most important thing you can do is define what boat safety is, make sure you understand how all your equipment/safety systems work, and create a manual that enables you to store and disseminate all your boat safety instructions, procedures, policies, maps, and checklists.
To get started on determining how safe your boating environment is, make sure to grab a copy of my FREE Boat Safety Audit.
This audit lists all the common boat safety equipment and enables you to check off what you have/don’t have. It also recommends servicing items that require maintenance in addition to listing potential procedures and policies that you might want to take on board your boat. Get the Boat Safety Audit here.
Other Boat Safety Articles/Videos
- The Ultimate Boat Safety Blueprint
- 7 Boat Safety Mistakes and How to Correct Them
- Sailing Basics – Avoiding Collisions
- The Importance of Using a Sailing Safety Tether
- The Best Life Jacket for Sailing Cruisers
- Seasickness Solution For Sailors
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