5 tips for July 4th
Getting through the holiday weekend
Many recreational boaters will hit the water for the Fourth of July holiday weekend. With almost 12 million registered boats across the country, that could mean waterway gridlock, especially after fireworks shows end and boaters head home. Here are five tips tailored to the specific safety needs for America’s birthday weekend:
- Wait to celebrate with alcohol. It could be a long day on the water, but waiting until after you’ve returned to home port for the night before drinking is a wise move. Added to the sun, wind and waves, alcohol lowers your situational awareness and increases reaction times.
- Get a kid’s life jacket for free. Before you think about putting your child in an adult-size life jacket for the weekend, here’s a better plan: Get a kid’s life jacket from a Life Jacket Loaner site near you for free.
- Don’t overload your boat. Seems like everyone wants to be on a boat on July Fourth, but how many is too many? If there’s no capacity plate to tell you, a general rule of thumb is that everyone should have a seat inside the boat. Keep in mind that passengers moving around, along with extra coolers and gear on board, can make your boat less stable.
- Avoid the two biggest problems. Hundreds of battery jumps and anchor line disentanglements occur on July Fourth, more than any other day of the year. Keep an eye on your battery drain, go slow while hauling anchor line, and don’t run over someone else’s anchor line.
- Be a safe paddler. Paddlers should understand all nautical rules of the road. A glow stick tied around the neck does not count as an approved navigation light and is dangerous. Practice defensive paddling and assume no one can see you. Try to avoid crowded anchorages or congested ramp areas. It’s safest to pass astern of other vessels and let them cross in front of you.