Whether your ideal Saturday afternoon is spent cruising the open water on a powerboat or speeding across wooded trails on an ATV, boating and powersports are two of the most common American pastimes. We all seem to have a need for speed, but once you become comfortable on a boat or power vehicle, it is easy to forget the importance of safety.
Safety on the Water
If boating is your favorite way to blow off steam and forget your troubles, remember that the water can be dangerous. Going overboard is a pretty common concern, but there are other ways to injure yourself when boating across a lake or an ocean bay, and many of these accidents can be avoided by following safety precautions.
- Inspect your boat often. A simple mechanical problem on your boat can mean a serious accident once you pull away from shore. Have your boat checked out by an experienced mechanic at least once a year, particularly at the beginning of summer when you will probably start boating more often.
- Know the water before heading out. Setting sail in unfamiliar waters is always a recipe for disaster, especially if the area isn’t used frequently by powerboats. Sudden changes in water depth, for example, could beach your boat in the middle of a lake. The same goes for tree stumps just below the surface, buoys you don’t see until it is too late and other obstacles.
- Wear a life jacket. There should be at least one life jacket on your boat for every person who will be riding. Boating safety requires that even adults wear life preservers or have access to one in case of an emergency. Before you leave the dock, make sure all life jackets are free of rips, tears, punctures and other problems.
- Bring emergency gear. Every boat should be equipped with an emergency kit packed in a floatable pouch. First Aid kits, flashlights, maps, flares and other items can save lives in a boating accident.
- Watch the weather. In some areas of the United States, clear skies can turn stormy in a matter of minutes. When boating, practice good safety by heading in as soon as the weather starts to turn nasty, especially in high-traffic areas. Bottlenecks can form if you wait too long and have to get in line to return to the docks behind everyone else.
Safety on Land
Powersports are equally as exciting as boating, but the same goes for safety regulations. If you aren’t practicing good safety on ATVs, motorcycles, scooters and other vehicles, someone will probably get hurt.
- Wear a helmet. Your head is the most precious part of your body and is therefore the most important to protect. Wearing a helmet that is sufficient to withstand a crash at high speeds can easily save lives. You should also wear knee and elbow pads, gloves, long sleeves and long pants to protect the rest of your body.
- Scout the trail. Before you head out on a powersports excursion, make sure that the trail you’ve chosen is appropriate for your vehicle. Fallen logs, rocky terrain and other issues with the surface of the trail can trip you up and land you in the hospital.
- Avoid traffic. It is never a good idea to participate in powersports when you know you might encounter other vehicles. Wearing bright clothing or bright flags will help, but stick to unpopulated areas where the chances of hitting another vehicle or a person are considerably less.
- Know the law. Most areas have laws regarding powersports, so if you are visiting a place far from home, check up on the local laws first. This not only helps with safety but will also save you from a citation should you be caught in illegal activity.
Boating and powersports safety is the first thing you should learn before buying a vehicle or riding off with a friend.
You should also make sure that all individuals and vehicles are properly insured. GEICO offers automobile insurance not only for cars and trucks but also for motorcycles, ATVs, boats and other vehicles. Carrying proper insurance will allow you to participate in powersports without worrying about what would happen in the event of an accident. It will also make sure all people are covered should an accident occur.