Summertime and being out on the water with friends and family enjoying boating seem to go hand-in-hand. But regardless of how long you’ve been hitting the waves it’s helpful to brush up on some safety best practices to help avoid a potential accident.

Here are six boating safety tips to make sure you stay safe this summer, according to a news release by a Pennsylvania, Pa.-based insurance company:

  1. Inspect the boat before heading out. Hoses and other rubber parts may be affected by dry rot. Also, take at look at all the metal surfaces and electrical areas for corrosion. The Vessel Safety Check is a free public service offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteers.
  2. Check the fluid levels. Just like a car, a boat needs several fluids to run smoothly. Make sure the oil, power steering, power trim, coolant and gear oil are all at satisfactory levels before you leave the dock.
  3. Test the battery. If the boat’s battery is more than four years old, it’s probably time for a replacement. Sailors for the Sea recommend charging and checking for connection corrosion at the beginning of the season.
  4. Pack safety gear. Make sure the boat has all the appropriate safety equipment on board. This includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, a bailer, an anchor, a First Aid kit, a flashlight and a bell or whistle. You should also make sure to bring a fully charged cell phone with you whenever you set out.
  5. |Pay attention to the weather. No one would think of taking a boat out in a thunderstorm. Yet boat owners often don’t think twice about other weather conditions that could prove just as dangerous. Avoid boating on exceptionally windy days since waves could capsize a smaller boat or cause passengers to fall out. Check the local forecast before departing.
  6. Develop a float plan. This includes all pertinent information to your trip including contact information for the trip leader, the boat type and registration information and where you plan to boat. Give someone at your marina a heads-up, or a family member, especially if you’re going somewhere remote. Someone needs to have your itinerary.

While routine maintenance is not covered under a boat policy, boat insurance can help cover you, your passengers and your boat, as well as other people and their property.

“It’s smart to protect your boat with physical damage coverage – that includes permanently attached equipment, any boating equipment and accessories, outboard motors and boat trailers,” said Dave Freeman, vice president, Personal Lines and Regional Underwriting officer at Erie Insurance in the news release.

If you decide to pass on insuring your boat against damages, experts still suggest a call to your insurance agent.

“Boat owners should at a minimum carry liability insurance, which covers them for any damage they may cause to someone’s property or if they cause an injury to someone else,” Freeman said in the news release.

If you follow this tips before you hit the waves you should be safe and that’s better than sorry!

Source: Erie Insurance Group