Boating accidents don’t receive as much attention in the news as traffic accidents yet every year thousands of people lose their lives when boats collide, capsize in choppy waters, run aground, catch fire, or when they are tossed out of the boats. Most road accident-related deaths can be prevented if drivers and passengers observe simple safety procedures; boating deaths can similarly be avoided by exercising caution.
A motor vehicle requires regular service to keep it in good shape. The same applies to every type of boat out there. It is commonly believed that only the big passenger carrying boats require regular inspections and servicing and as such many an owner of a small boat evades the dry dock unless the boat has a problem he can’t fix on his own. Seasoned water vessel owners nonetheless emphasize the importance of regular inspection because during such exercises it is possible to detect and repair any problems that could put you and your crew at risk.
It is important to have some basic marine safety equipment on board every boat yet many boaters, especially owners of small boats, often go out to sea without any. It is rather unfortunate that such crews only appreciate the importance of having marine safety equipment aboard when they run into trouble and need to not only call for and direct rescuers to their positions but also to stay alive until help arrives. One piece of safety equipment that you should have with you is a marine GPS. Not only does a marine GPS help you navigate the waters you are in but in case of emergency it is designed to help the user tell his/her locations’ exact coordinates. Even if you are stranded in the open waters and you’ve lost all sense of direction, a marine GPS should enable you to pinpoint your exact position so that a rescuer can find you.
Another important item of marine safety equipment is the life jacket. A life jacket is analogous to a car seat belt; believe it or not, most of the people who lose their lives in boating accidents are usually people not wearing life jackets. Wearing a life jacket can save your life in the event that your boat capsizes or you are forced to dive overboard. With a properly fitted life jacket you should be able to float with your head out of the water so that you continue breathing. You never know how long it will take before help arrives; even if you are a good swimmer you can get exhausted and drown before you are rescued.
Should you find yourself in the water a personal locator beacon (PBL) may mean the difference between life and death. These small devices usually weigh less than a couple of powerbars. They quickly and accurately relay your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites.