Summer toy safety

Protecting your toys

Take to the water safely

If you’re an avid boater, you know there’s really nothing like the first ride of the season — wind in your hair, sun on your face, and maybe a fish or two on your line. Whether you’re charting unfamiliar waters or floating on your favorite pond, any super-sized toy comes with some rules.

Boat sober 

You may think that you’re safer behind the wheel of a boat than you are a car after a few beers, but there’s no difference between driving a car intoxicated and captaining a boat intoxicated. In fact, according to the CDC, alcohol is the leading factor in fatal boat accidents, so don’t drink and boat.

Learn the ropes

The CDC cites operator error as the culprit behind seven out of 10 boating accidents. Whether you’re a novice boater or someone who’s skilled on the water, it’s a great idea to take boating education classes, even if it’s just to refresh your memory. In fact, depending on your age or state laws, it may be required. You could save a life — even your own.

Wear a life jacket

Almost 85 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. This rule holds true even if you don’t plan to get in the water. Being on a boat puts you at risk no matter how safe it may seem. To meet U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) requirements, a boat must have a USCG-approved life jacket for each person aboard, and all states have regulations regarding life jackets for children. Make sure any pint-sized sailors understand the importance of keeping them on. Lastly, check that the life jackets on board are easily accessible — don’t lock them away or have geared stored on top of them.

Plan your trip

Are those gray clouds you see overhead? Are the waters choppy and unpredictable today? Do you have everything onboard that you need? Unlike driving, taking the boat out for a spin requires more preparation than just having a full tank of gas (though you do need that, too). Discover Boating has a safe boating checklist available that will get you in tip-top shape for happy and safe aquatic adventures.

Breathe easy

It’s rarely mentioned, but carbon monoxide (CO) — an odorless, poisonous gas — is emitted by all boat engines and onboard motor generators. CO poisoning can easily be mistaken for seasickness and kill quickly. Be aware of the risk, make sure your watercraft has sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors if your boat has living and sleeping areas (lucky you).

Get your vessel checked

Even experienced boaters can benefit from a second pair of eyes. Getting an official vessel safety check takes 15­–30 minutes and can be done in your driveway. It’s free, easy, and gives you the peace of mind that will make taking to the water so much more enjoyable. The USCG Auxiliary has more information on how to find an examiner.

Before you hit the deck

Are you the captain of your own ship? Why chart unfamiliar waters when you’ll know exactly where you are with comprehensive watercraft coverage from Grinnell Mutual? Contact your local agent today to set sail for tomorrow.

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