Boaters in Ohio should follow these tips to stay safe on the water
With spring in full swing and warmer weather on the way, Ohio residents are heading outdoors to enjoy some of their favorite hobbies and activities, with boating being one of the most popular. Ohio’s boating industry is booming, and the state has countless rivers, lakes, and ponds for boating enthusiasts.
The number of people who enjoy getting out on the water is no surprise, considering the many benefits of boating. While fun, boating also comes with known dangers, mostly due to careless operators and passengers. Other navigational hazards stem from the unpredictability and betrayal of Mother Nature.
There are several scenarios that boaters may face that could necessitate the filing of a lawsuit. There are many ways a person can be legally responsible for an injury, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not knowing how to drive a boat properly, and results can be devastating.
If you are injured on a boat, you may want to consider contacting an Ohio boating accident attorney. But it’s also important to plan ahead and be prepared before you sail, and you need to know what to do in an emergency and following a boating accident. While it is impossible to prevent or avoid all hazards or hazards, following certain safety practices can limit the risk of boating injury.
Top Boating Safety Tips
As a boat operator or passenger, there are measures to ensure you are as safe as possible when out on the water. Having the proper safety equipment and practices in place will protect you and others, and could even save a life.
1. Know the Boating Laws and Requirements
Just as there are highway and road laws, there are Ohio boating laws and regulations that must be followed. For example, there are speed limits, minimum operator age, training and supervision restrictions, restricted areas and areas where an anchor cannot be lowered, and moving passenger requirements.
Ohio boating laws require operators born on or after January 1, 1982, to pass a boater’s training course or competency exam to operate a boat over ten horsepower. Educating boaters helps keep waterways safe for everyone. It promotes the safe operation of powerboats and proof that the Ohio Boater Education requirement is met should be kept with you.
2. Check the weather
No matter where you are sailing in Ohio and what type of boat you are on, check the weather forecast before you get in the water. Certain weather conditions, such as high winds, rain and storms, can create dangerous sailing conditions. Ohio is off the coast, but lake effect storms and even the remnants of a hurricane can affect boater safety.
Hot weather and heat waves create dangerous conditions, putting boaters at risk of heatstroke and burns. Pack and drink plenty of water, put on sunscreen and wear a hat to keep you cool and protected.
3. Bring life jackets for everyone
In 2022, drowning was the leading cause of boating-related deaths in Ohio. Even the best swimmers are at risk of drowning. A good boating safety tip is to have enough life jackets – and the right size – for everyone on board.
Children under the age of ten must wear a US Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) when on board vessels less than 18 feet in length. PFDs should also be worn by anyone who uses water skis, surfboards, inflatables, or other devices that are towed by a boat. Depending on the size of the vessel, you may also need to have a disposable PFD, which can be used when someone falls overboard.
Wearing a life jacket at any age and on any boat is the best way to avoid drowning if someone falls overboard, if a collision occurs with another vessel and if a boat flows. These situations can cause people in the water to become disoriented, panic or even lose consciousness.
4. Do not work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
As with driving a car or other road vehicle, Ohio law states that you cannot operate a vessel with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher and operators cannot being under the influence of drugs. It’s always safest to avoid alcohol altogether when boating, but if you choose to drink, don’t drive – have a designated ‘driver’. And remember that the legal drinking age of 21 still applies when you’re sailing.
5. Pack safety and emergency supplies
A shipwreck can occur in several ways and cause minor to fatal injuries. To prepare for possible emergencies, stay safe by keeping these supplies on board:
First aid kit Flashlight Whistle or horn Fire extinguisher Oars and bucket
If you plan to be away from land and other boaters, a flare gun should be added to your boat’s emergency kit. You should also have a radio or cell phone handy as it is important to have a way to contact emergency services or a family member if needed.
6. Share your float plan
Whenever you go boating in Ohio, let someone know where you’re going by giving them your float plan. Sharing your route, no matter what type of vessel you’re on, ensures that if something happens, someone knows where you’re headed and for how long. This is especially important if you cannot tell the emergency services or someone else that something has happened and you need help.
If you are involved in a boating accident, the person you gave your float plan to can contact emergency personnel on your behalf. They can share key details, like your planned route, what time you left, who is with you and when you were due back, which can help in a search and rescue operation.
7. Extras Pack
Packing extra essentials, including food, water, and clothing, is a simple but important boating safety tip. The weather can change quickly and falls overboard are not uncommon. It is important to stay dry, especially at night, especially if you are involved in a boating accident and are waiting for help. It’s also a good idea to pack extra water and food. Staying hydrated and energized can help reduce your risk of injury while out on the water.
8. Maintain your ship
Like cars, motorcycles and trucks, motorboats need oil, gasoline and coolant to function properly. Engine maintenance is crucial to staying safe and includes a thorough check of things like how much gas you have and if your fluids are topped up.
You should regularly assess your boat for damage, check that your lights are working, and more. This detailed boat maintenance checklist goes through more steps to follow to ensure the safest boating experience.
9. Stay alert
Another boating safety tip is that operators remain alert at all times. It’s easy to get carried away with the fun of the open water, especially when friends are on board, but staying alert while in use can prevent a boating accident. Always know where other vessels are around you, watch the weather, obey Ohio boating laws, and avoid your cell phone when the engine is running. After all, distracted driving also happens on the water and causes boating-related injuries and fatalities.
10. Educate passengers about safety
Anyone who boards a boat should know the basics of boater safety. As a vessel owner and operator, let your friends and family know who is joining you on the water. Understanding the many dangers that can be encountered could save their lives.
Show passengers where the first aid kit, paddles, bucket and life jackets are, review relevant boating laws and regulations, and discuss what to do in different emergency situations before leaving the dock. Boating is fun when boat safety is a priority for everyone who operates or boards a vessel.
Boating Dangers in Ohio
The many dangers of reckless boating in Ohio should be taken seriously. The most common causes of boat wrecks are speeding, driver inattention, boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driver inexperience, and poor boat maintenance.
Many injuries can occur on a boat, from cuts and fractures to traumatic brain injury, organ damage and spinal cord injury, resulting in lifelong pain and struggles that dramatically change people’s lives. Be aware that recognizing the seriousness of an injury can take time; a slip and fall on the deck of a boat may seem minor, but a back injury may require months (or more) of physiotherapy and other treatment to aid recovery.
Whether you are the operator or passenger of a boat, there are obvious dangers that can be encountered while out on the water. If you are injured on a boat, it is essential to consult a lawyer. At Murray & Murray, our Ohio boating and maritime injury attorneys have extensive experience handling these complex cases.
Proving liability in boat wrecks can be more difficult than in other personal injury cases due to specific factors that may contribute to what happens on the water. Our skilled team protects victims of boating injuries and fights for their rights, ensuring they are fairly compensated for their suffering and loss. Contact Murray & Murray online or call 419-624-3000 for a free consultation.