With the kids almost out of school and Memorial Day in just a few weeks boating may be in your future. Here are a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying the beautiful lakes and rivers of central Texas:
· Learn to swim. The best thing anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is to learn to swim. This includes anyone participating in any boating activity. The American Red Cross has swimming courses for people of any age and swimming ability. To find a provider of American Red Cross Learn to Swim lesson click here.
· Alcohol and boating don’t mix. Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance, and coordination — over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. For the same reasons it is dangerous to operate an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, people should not operate a boat while drinking alcohol.
· Look for the label: Use Coast Guard-approved life jackets for yourself and your passengers when boating and fishing.
· Develop a float plan. Anytime you go out in a boat, give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. This is important because if the boat is delayed because of an emergency, becomes lost, or encounters other problems, you want help to be able to reach you.
· Find a boating course in your area (U.S. Power Squadron, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, US Sailing, etc) — these courses teach about navigation rules, emergency procedures and the effects of wind, water conditions, and weather.
· Watch the weather: Know local weather conditions and prepare for electrical storms. Watch local news programs. Stop boating as soon as you see or hear a storm.
– Denise Blok