Having friends and family aboard is what boating is all about. But in an emergency, could they quickly locate a fire extinguisher or provide accurate location information to rescuers -- without your help?
For National Safe Boating Week May 16 to 22, BoatU.S. Seaworthy magazine editor Bob Adriance has developed a short Crew Safety Checklist.
“Boating is supposed to be fun, so we do not want to unduly alarm our guests, Adriance said. “However, every skipper should take a few minutes before they leave the dock to share these tips with crew.”
• Life jackets. Offer a correctly sized life jacket to those who wish to wear one, show guests where the others are stored and how they are properly worn.
• Fire extinguishers. They should be easily visible near engine and galley areas. Take a moment to explain what types they are and how they are meant to be used. Point out any fire port locations for snuffing out engine compartment fires.
• Flares. Show where they are located and how to safely activate without causing injury.
• Engine and fuel shutoffs. Especially on sailboats, it’s not always clear how to shut off the engine (usually by pulling out the “kill” knob).
• VHF radio. It’s very important to familiarize the crew with its operation, how to make a radio distress call, and one-button rescue mode (if equipped).
• Battery switch: Show the crew how to turn off power in case of an electrical fire.
• Chartplotter, GPS, and Loran: At a minimum, crew should know to find a latitude/longitude position with these electronics. Pinpoint its location on the unit’s screen. Have a current chart on board, show your crew where you’re departing from and headed for the day.
• Man overboard gear: Show where it is and give a brief explanation on how to use it.
To help boaters learn more about these and other safety related items, the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has an Online Boating Safety Study Guide at www.BoatUS.com/foundation/toolbox.