Happy Fourth of July! Today is looking to be the busiest time of the year on the water, and with boaters everywhere flocking to get a good view of fireworks across the nation, it’s a good time to go over safety reminders. Here are BoatUS's eight holiday boating tips to help you and your family have the best time on the lake this Independence Day:
1. Wait to celebrate with alcohol. A lot of people will be spending all day on the water, but waiting until after you’re safely at the dock and moored for the night before breaking out the alcohol is a wise move. Thanks to the effects of sun, wind and waves, alcohol inhibits situational awareness and slows reaction times.
2. The more lookouts at night, the better. Having your family members or guests lend you their eyes while houseboating after dark can help prevent accidents.
3. Go slow after the fireworks. After the last firework explodes and you pull up anchor, you’re probably more than ready to get home fast. Be cautious, take it slow, and the odds for a safe return are sure to get higher.
4. Get kids’ life jackets for free. Everyone’s hosting extra guests for the holiday, but might not have the right sizes of life jackets for them. The BoatUS Foundation’s free Kids Life Jacket Loaner program gives boaters a chance to borrow child-size life jackets for the day, afternoon, or weekend, so take advantage.
5. Don’t overload the boat. Make sure to respect your houseboat’s carrying capacity and don’t bring on too much weight in extra coolers and equipment.
6. Be a safe paddler. Kayak, canoe or stand-up paddlers should definitely know the nautical rules and practice defensive paddling by assuming no one can see you. At night, paddlers need to show a white light, and don’t rely on just using glow sticks around your neck. Steer clear of crowded anchorages and ramp areas.
7. Never swim near a dock with electricity or in a marina or yacht club.
8. Avoid the two biggest hassles. The nationwide TowBoatUS on-water towing fleet reports hundreds of battery jumps and anchor-line disentanglements over the holiday. To avoid having to contact BoatUS 24-hour dispatch (BoatUS.com/app), keep an eye on your battery drain, go slow while hauling anchor line, and be very vigilant in watching out for everyone else’s anchor lines after the fireworks are over.