Staying Safe in the Sun and On the Water
The sun is finally breaking through the clouds and people are flocking to the water. While it’s still early in the boating season, being safe is an on-going task for everyone heading to the river!
The Pasco Fire department is reminding people to always make a plan before heading out. “The water is a real attractive thing here in the Tri-Cities and people come from all around to enjoy it’s pleasure,” said Captain Garrett Jenks of the Pasco Fire Department. The key to safely enjoying the water is being prepared.
Know Before You Go
After months in storage and docks, boats need checked out before heading out. These safety checks will make sure that life jackets and safety equipment are in place, and the boat is ready for passenger safety.
“You have to plan ahead,” Jenks said. “You have to be prepared for all the different types of situations, just like any road trip, things could go wrong and the water is no different.” There were 18 boating-related deaths in Washington state in 2016. And sadly, 90% of boat drowning death victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Planing ahead and preparing necessities before going out on the water is important. It’s also vital to make sure that you can call for help if you need to.
Everyone wants to have a good time, but there are legal limits for those on water as well as land. Safely enjoying the water means never driving a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Being on the water can be a lot fun. Making smart and informed choices will keep it safe and enjoyable for everyone. http://keprtv.com/news/local/warm-weather-brings-people-to-the-river-remember-to-stay-safe
Washington State Boater Guidelines
Specific laws in every state govern all vehicle use and safety guidelines–including boats! The Washington Boater Education Law outlines the terms and restrictions regulating the use of recreational vehicles boats. As with any law, the intent is to keep drivers and passengers safe and as free from harmful situations as possible.
For many, it’s a given, that anyone operating a water vessel needs a license or permit. As a passenger, it’s important to know that you are on a boat that is operated by someone in accordance with local laws.
For all you need to know about applications and licensing for boating, check out: https://www.dmv.com/wa/washington/boating-license
Monitoring the Waters
Law enforcement officers do patrol the waterways, ensuring that all is well and everyone’s safe. Not carrying a Boater Education Card (permit), in Washington state, can result in a fine. https://www.boat-ed.com/washington/boating_law.html. Laws vary from state to state; check https://www.boat-ed.com/idaho/boating_law.html for Idaho boaters and https://www.boat-ed.com/oregon/boating_law.html for Oregon boaters. Be a responsible boater and driver. It’s part of staying safe on the water all year round.
Waterways are second only to highways in location for accidental deaths. Too often people assume that someone in possession of a boat has experience and is knowledgeable about its operation and equipment. But primary lesson here: never take a willingness to navigate a boat has license to do so. Because much like driving a car, it requires training and experience to legally navigate the water.
As a passenger, it’s OK to ask questions before you go for a ride. Always confirm with the operator that they are in compliance with licensing and operation of their vehicle-including all boats and other recreational vehicles. This simple question could avoid many tragic outcomes.
And always remember to wear a life jacket-no exceptions!
Guidelines for Safe Boating
Safety guidelines have been issued by the state to help boaters be safe in work, sport and recreation. Help keep Washington’s waterways safe by following these safety guidelines:
- Always wear a life jacket when boating. Besides their lifesaving flotation, life vests and float coats provide added insulation to protect against hypothermia, and they only work if boaters wear them. Life vests featuring mesh upper bodies, specifically designed for shouldering a gun, are available now.
- Be aware of tides. Becoming stuck or stranded in a mud flat can be a serious safety hazard.
- Be weather wise. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes, and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing.
- Bring your cell phone in a waterproof zip lock bag. If you have cell phone service, you can call for help without removing the phone from the bag.
- Don’t drink and boat: Alcohol affects both judgment and reactions, and its effects are more pronounced on the water. Tougher laws for boaters operating a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) go into effect on July 28, 2013. Read the BUI fact sheet for details.
- Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Assess the wind and wave conditions to decide if you are prepared for potential cold-water conditions. Check weather forecasts before leaving home and be aware of changing conditions. Take along extra clothing for children, they get cold faster than adults.
- In case of capsizing or swamping, you should stay with your boat. Even when filled with water, the boat will provide some flotation and is easier to see by potential rescuers.
- Limit movement and keep weight low to avoid capsizing or falling overboard. Take two trips if necessary to keep the weight in the boat low.
- Limit the loads of people and equipment carried in boats. Overloaded boats are less maneuverable and more likely to become swamped or capsized.
- Take a boating safety course and receive your boating safety education card. The Mandatory Boater Safety Education Law went into effect on January 1, 2008. The new law requires boaters ages 12 years and older to pass a boating safety course or an equivalency exam before operating a motorboat of 15 horsepower or greater. https://parks.state.wa.us/450/Boater-Safety
Boating laws and guidelines outline responsible parties and safety obligations for all boaters. Everyone on the water should make staying safe and keeping the law like an Old Habit!
Our Personal Injury & Auto Accident Lawyers are Here to Help
Not only can boating accidents be devastating for those involved, they can leave families in a state of shock. Even if you feel your injuries are minor, seeking legal counsel may be the answer to resolving liability for watery negligence or wrecks. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is one of the best ways to determine your legal rights after an accident.
If you or a loved one have been in a boating accident in Washington or Idaho, contact Fielding Law Group today for a free consultation on how our accident attorneys can help you get financial recovery for physical, mental, and property damages. By working one-on-one with our clients, we are able to offer the best legal representation throughout the entire resolution process, in order to settle all personal injury claims. Our unparalleled abilities mean that you can concentrate on healing, while we make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Remember-Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!
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