COLLEGE STATION, Texas — As the weather warms up and the waters calm down going into the start of summer, many boat owners are likely starting to brush off their boat covers and getting ready for another active boating season here in Texas. However, with great boating opportunities come great boating responsibilities – be sure to brush up on your boating safety skills and knowledge before getting out on the water this season!
May 20, 2023 kicks off National Safe Boating Week and serves as a reminder to brush up on safe boating skills in preparation for boating season. The National Safe Boating Council recommends that you prepare for boating season by inspecting your boating safety gear and emphasizes a commitment to providing life jackets for all passengers on board every time you go boating.
According to the United States Coast Guard statistics, 81% of fatal boating accident victims in 2021 drowned, and of those victims, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. There are multiple life jacket options for boaters and passengers to select but when choosing a life jacket, always check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for water activity, and fits properly.
Of the many safe boating tips available, Calhoun County Coastal and Marine Resources Agent RJ Shelly adds extra emphasis to always wear a life jacket and make sure someone on shore knows where you are going and when you plan to be back.
“My top three boating safety tips are to wear a life jacket, wear a kill switch, and always let someone know where you’re going,” said Shelly. “People often think they can just make a phone call if something happens on the water, but you can’t let the fact that you have a cell phone make you think you don’t need to let someone know where you’re going. You can’t guarantee that you will have cell service on the water.”
The National Safe Boating Council also recommends the following tips for boaters:
- Take a boating safety course to gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience
- Check equipment and schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons
- Make a float plan before you leave the dock
- Make sure everyone wears a life jacket every time you’re on the water
- Use an engine cut-off switch to stop a powerboat engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard
- Watch the weather and check forecasts before departing on the water
- Always travel at safe speeds and be aware of what’s going on around you
- Never boat under the influence
You can learn more safe boating tips and statistics at www.weather.gov/safety/safeboating or by visiting the National Safe Boating Council’s website. Also, be sure to check out Texas Sea Grant’s Facebook and Instagram pages throughout the month of May for more safe boating tips and resources.
Texas Shorelines is a service of the Texas Sea Grant College Program at Texas A&M University. Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 34 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.