Summer is a prime time for entertaining, and when you own a boat, that will probably seem like the perfect place to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. However, all boat owners probably understand exactly how many safety risks that both they and others face on the vessel. Particularly if you have guests aboard who don’t regularly travel with you, then you have to take responsibility for their security. Usually, this is a lot different from having a guest passenger in your care. What are some of the ways that you can see to your guests’ safety?
In many ways, you can think practically about keeping your guests safe. This will involve both instructions you give your guests and actions you take yourself. In some cases, you can even refer to your boat insurance for assistance.
Step 1: Understanding Your State’s Boating Laws
A boat might not have four wheels, but it is still a motor vehicle. The skipper is not really a lot different from the everyday driver. They just navigate waterways instead of roadways. Just like any other drivers, you have to take responsibility for your own safety and that of passengers.
Most states institute laws governing travel on local waterways. Boat manufacturers, also, will usually institute operating requirements on their vessels. Both of these usually include various safety laws that affect both boat owners and any of their riders. Some of these might be:
- Requirements for boat owners to have special licensing to operate the boat. Boaters will usually have to pass a boating safety course before they can receive their credentials. Usually, only licensed boaters can operate the vessel.
- Waterway traffic rules, such as speed limits, alcohol use laws and more.
- Rules that force all passengers to wear safety gear, namely life jackets.
- Requirements for boats to contain safety gear, like rafts, sirens or emergency flares.
- Laws that govern when children can be passengers and what safety gear they must use. Many children must wear a child-sized life jacket, specifically.
- Prohibitions that limit the maximum passenger capacity of private vessels. Boats cannot contain unlimited guests, and run the risk of foundering if you overload.
If you fail to abide by these regulations, you could put yourself, your guests and your boat in very dangerous situations. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your boat insurance is all the protection you need. Instead, remember all your safety rules and regulations before you start an excursion.
Step 2: Steps to Follow During the Excursion
As your guests start to arrive for the excursion, always put safety first. It is important to impress on everyone that they must follow the rules. Here’s just a few things to do:
- Everyone should wear life preservers—no exceptions. Make sure guests know not only how to put these on, but also how to adjust them so that they will fit. In some cases, guests can take their life jackets off when you have stopped or anchored the boat. However, they must wear these when the boat is moving.
- If necessary, give guests a small safety demonstration of other essentials like the life raft, fire extinguisher, alarm or related equipment. You might also want to show them how to operate features like the ladder, so they can get in or out of the water with ease.
- Clearly tell guests what items they cannot touch, and where they cannot go on the vessel. For example, don’t allow anyone (who doesn’t know what they are doing) to touch the boat’s radio, wheel, plug or anchor without supervision.
- Require all guests to remain seated while the boat is moving.
- Make sure everyone properly stores all personal items before setting sail.
- Never allow underage children alone on the vessel at any time.
The biggest thing to do during these times is to keep an eye on your surroundings. If you ever notice anyone doing anything that might appear unsafe, make sure you warn them. This doesn’t mean getting in an argument with your guests. However, it might mean just recommending that someone sit down or tighten their life preserver for added safety.
How Boat Insurance Can Help You
If you were to have a problem on the vessel, then your guests might sustain personal harm. They might get hurt or lose possessions. Or, they might be at-fault for the accident itself if they were at the helm. Various parts of your boat insurance can help them.
- Guest passenger liability coverage: If a passenger is operating the boat with your permission, and they cause an accident, this coverage will protect them.
- Medical payments coverage: This coverage will pay for your passengers’ costs if they get hurt in a wreck or other accident related to the boat.
- Possessions coverage: Some policies also cover certain belongings of passengers in case those items sustain damage in covered accidents. However, the passenger’s homeowners insurance might also compensate them in these cases.
Keep in mind, you will also need other coverage, like watercraft liability, collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured boater coverage in addition to these specific boater policie. The more you have, the more assistance you and your guests might have available.
Also Read: Taking Care of Your Car This Summer