Boating Safety Tips To Prevent Summer Accidents

May 16 , 2023 | Boating Accident Lawyers

Between Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and the Wisconsin River, there are many lakes, rivers, and waterways for boaters to enjoy in Wisconsin, and more than 611,000 vessels were registered in the state in 2016.

Unfortunately, the state has its share of accidents, with 108 boating accidents, 74 injuries, 21 fatalities reported in 2016, and at least four boating deaths in 2022. The tips below can help boaters to enjoy Wisconsin’s waters safely, and our Wisconsin boating accident lawyers at Martin Law Office, S.C, can help if you were injured in a boating accident.

Wear Life Jackets

Most fatal boating accidents are because of drowning, and approximately 80% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. Therefore, you should be sure everyone in your boat has a life jacket and always wears it.

Plan Your Trip

Make a boating or float plan before going on the water. Leave your plan with a friend or family member so they know where you are going and when you will return. It also should state how you get to your destination on the water and the safety gear on board. If there is an accident, this information can be critical for the US Coast Guard and other law enforcement to assist you.

Stay Alert

Many boating accidents can be avoided by staying alert on the water. It is easy to get complacent on open water because there usually are no boats close to you, but this is how accidents happen. Obey the speed limit for the water and keep an eye out for obstacles and other boaters.

Do Not Overload The Boat

Every boat is designed for specific parameters and specifications. Do not push the boat’s limits to get more people and gear on board. For example, if the boat is only made for eight people, do not bring more than that.

Have A Boating Safety Kit

You do not know when an emergency on the water will happen, but you can be prepared with a boating safety kit that includes these items:

  • Duct tape for leaks
  • Bucket
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Ropes
  • Garbage bags for ponchos and protecting items from rain
  • Life jackets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Mirror to signal for help

Do Not Use A Cell Phone

Inattention can be just as deadly on the water as on the roads. Talking, texting, and other use of smartphones while boating is a serious issue. Do not contribute to this issue; keep your eyes on boat piloting.

Never Drink And Boat

It is best not to have alcohol on board, but if there is, do not partake if you are piloting the boat. Also, it is a good rule of thumb not to allow anyone in the water to swim if they have had anything to drink.

Go To A Boating Safety Class

Only 13% of boating accidents that led to death involved operators who had taken a boating safety education class. Taking classes will teach important boating rules and guidelines to keep you and your guests safe.

Have A Free Vessel Safety Check

Did you know the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Power Squadron offer free vessel safety checks? These vessel examiners are certified and will review your boating equipment and give you complimentary safety information before you go boating. Remember, all boats are complicated machines that should be maintained often to keep them safe.

Follow Safe Docking Procedures

Docking can be difficult depending on the weather, wind, and type of vessel. As you get closer to the dock, be sure the bumpers are out to avoid damage. Slow down and check that all docking lines are secured.

If the wind blows to the shore, pilot the boat until it is about two feet from the dock, and the wind blows it in. If the wind is away from shore, pilot the boat at a 30-degree angle to allow for the wind, then tie the bow line first.

Tips For Water Skiers And Tubers

Skiing and tubing are fun on the water but can be hazardous if safety rules are not followed. Remember these tips to stay safe:

  • Always use a spotter when someone is skiing or tubing.
  • Be sure the towline does not get wrapped in the propeller.
  • Only engage in these activities during daylight hours.
  • Ensure all skiers and tubers know how to get up in the water and use the tow rope safely.
  • Always wait for the propeller to stop before entering the vessel.

Be Aware Of The Weather

It might look like a calm, gorgeous day on Lake Michigan or Superior, but the weather can turn fast. So before you go out for the day, watch the weather forecast. Also, the National Hurricane Center provides storm and hurricane forecasts, so check for those before going out in your boat.

Who Is Liable For Injuries In A Wisconsin Boating Accident?

Responsibility for a Wisconsin boating accident depends on the situation and the parties involved. In many incidents, the person who piloted the boat would be liable for injuries during the accident. However, if an accident occurred where a minor was piloting the vessel, the owner would typically be at fault.

In Wisconsin, children under 10 cannot pilot a boat in any circumstances, but those between 10 and 12 can do so if a guardian is in the craft. Anyone over 12 can pilot a boat in the state with a boating safety certificate and a guardian on board.

Drinking and boating is among the most common reasons for Wisconsin boating accidents. If someone injures you and is charged with boating under the influence (BUI), you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Contact Our Wisconsin Boating Accident Lawyers Today

If everyone in Wisconsin works together, we can prevent many boating accidents and injuries. However, you could have legal options if you are injured in a boat because of someone’s negligence. Our Wisconsin boating accident lawyers can review your case at no charge, so contact Martin Law Office, S.C., now at (414) 856-4010.