- by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 6/25/2021
According to the American Boating Association (ABA) , the coast guard reported 4,168 accidents in the US throughout 2019. With July 4th just around the corner, now is the perfect time to review the safety standards on your boat. Follow these six tips to help you prepare for the holiday weekend and keep your friends and family safe.
More than 40 states require some form of boater education in order to operate a boat on state waters. Even if it’s not required by your state, a boater safety course is still in your best interest. Courses are available for boaters of all ages and abilities and cover a variety of topics, including boat operation, etiquette and waterway rules. The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division maintains a database of organizations offering boating safety courses.
This one’s a no-brainer. Obviously, you’re going to want to know the local laws before taking your boat out on the water. The National Association of Boating Law Administrators has a handy Reference Guide on their site that provides a snapshot of boating laws by state. They also have a Directory of State Contacts you can reach out to if you have any questions regarding your state’s boating laws.
Want to be sure that your boat is ready for a day on the water? The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a program providing boaters with a free Vessel Safety Check . The check is performed by a certified Vessel Examiner who will examine key safety features such as life jackets, navigation lights, fire extinguishers, distress signals, battery covers and connections, as well as your boat’s registration and numbering.
The check takes roughly 30 to 45 minutes to complete and is completely free of charge. If your boat passes, you’ll be provided with a special VSC decal that informs the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol and other law-enforcement agencies that your boat is in full compliance with all Federal and State laws. If your boat does not pass, no report is filed. You’ll simply be given a written report telling you how to correct any discrepancies that came up.
A float plan is a summary of your boating trip designed to help the coast guard locate you more easily if something goes wrong. A float plan will include details such as a description of your boat, the number of people aboard, your intended destination and the time frame of your trip. Float Plan Central , a public service of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has a downloadable guide you can use to create a float plan of your own.
Once it’s completed, leave your float plan with a family member, friend or a marina dock master, who can contact the US Coast Guard and send them the Float Plan in the event of an emergency.
If you’re going to be spending the whole day on the water, you’ll want to be sure that your batteries are functioning properly. Bring them in to your nearest Battery Plus location and we’ll test them for you, free of charge.
Need a few last minute supplies? Batteries Plus is your one-stop headquarters for boat batteries, chargers, fuses and headlight bulbs (enter original part number here). We also carry additional extras like flashlights and headlamps, glow sticks (in white, blue, red or green) and even a waterproof pocket, perfect for keeping phones, passports and other items dry.