Safety concerns on boats are just as crucial as on any other vehicle, although travel over water and boating recreation presents unique safety issues. A person should address all safety concerns on a boat before leaving the dock, and boats are equipped with several safety features that must be maintained and kept up to date in order to ensure a safe boating experience.
Personal Flotation Devices
According to Yacht and Boat, the most important safety feature on a boat is a person's Personal Flotation Device, or PFD. A PFD usually takes the form of a life jacket and should be worn by all people on boats at all times. The U.S. Coast Guard actively enforces laws regarding life jackets so that people refrain from ever taking them off. The Center for Disease Control or CDC states that life jackets should be properly fitted to each person so that they can effectively reduce the risk of drowning.
Boat Safety Materials
Boat Safety Scheme states that at least one lifebuoy should be kept on board boats at all times. The buoy should be easily accessible, but care should be taken not to inadvertently injure a person in the water by hitting them with a buoy. Other materials needed on boats are first-aid kits, bilge pumps in case a boat takes on water and fire extinguishers, according to Yacht and Boat. Communication equipment should also be on board, especially for use on extended boating trips that could find a boat far from both land and readily accessible emergency assistance.
Boat handrails are put in place to prevent a person from falling overboard. Handrails should be testing for the proper length and should be able to withstand force and support sufficient weight, according to Boat Safety Scheme. Guard rails should be fitted around the perimeter of the boat as well as in living areas in case of rough seas. Hull openings are another concern that should be considered. Boat and Safety Scheme states that all hull openings should be at least 10 inches above the waterline to reduce sinking risk. Any opening below this line should be sealed and watertight. As for glass on a boat, all glass features should be made of safety glass or an acrylic or polycarbonate material to safeguard against breakage.
Carbon Monoxide Concerns
Boat engines should always be properly maintained and not just to keep boaters from becoming stranded. The CDC warns against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Most boat engines emit an odourless, colourless, poisonous gas. This gas can kill in minutes, according to the CDC, and can be avoided by providing proper ventilation and installing a carbon monoxide detector in interior areas of the boat.
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