Boater Safety Tips ~ The Southern Scoop’s Featured Tip of the Month
Let’s talk about boater safety tips! With summer on the horizon, we bet you’ll find yourself on a boat at some point between now and Labor Day. Whether you’re the passenger or the driver, boater safety is paramount. It goes beyond a little common sense (and remembering your life jacket). When planning your beach vacation in Destin, Pensacola Beach or Gulf Shores, our boater safety tips will help you stay safe on the waves!
Boater Safety Certification
First thing’s first – before you can operate a boat, you’ll need to take a boater safety certification. The rules are a little different between Florida and Alabama, but easy to follow. In Florida, all boaters born on or after January 1, 1988, who operate any motorized watercraft of 10 horsepower or more need a Florida Boater Education ID Card. This card is issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and has no expiration date. No one under the age of 14 may operate a personal watercraft in the state of Florida, but minors above the age of 14 may become certified.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, all persons who operate a motorized boat on Alabama waters must obtain an Alabama Vessel License. You must be at least 12 years old to get your license, and the card, issued by the Alabama Department of Conservation Marine Police, has no expiration date. Personal watercraft operators in Alabama must be at least 12 years old but cannot operate without adult supervision until at least 14 years of age.
Fortunately, if you’re just planning on renting a boat for your beach vacation in Destin, Pensacola Beach, or Gulf Shores, you can take the boater safety certification in-person before boarding. It really is as simple as that!
Put Together Your Safety Checklist
Do you have all the necessary equipment before heading out on your boat? Here are some key items you should have on board:
- Life jackets (one for each person)
- Sound-producing devices (such as whistles and air horns)
- Distress signals
- Fuel and oil
- Fire extinguishers
- Battery care
- Docking and anchoring tips
Bring the Proper Life Jackets
By law, all boats must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket per person on board. They do so much more than keep you afloat – they also can help prevent hypothermia in cold weather. Try on your life jacket to make sure it fits properly, and ensure it’s appropriate for your on-water activity.
Check (and Double Check!) the Weather
We know this goes without saying, but if a thunderstorm is in the forecast, it’s best not to head out on your boat for the day. Be sure to also check the water for smooth seas! Monitor the weather and water along your route and destination to ensure everything is safe to go out.
Don’t Rock the Boat!
Boats have capacity limits for a reason, and exceeding that limit can be dangerous for the boat and everyone involved. Always follow the capacity limits and don’t overload with passengers or equipment!
Practice Common Sense
A majority of boater safety stems from simply practicing common sense! Here are a few common sense practices to follow for the best boater safety tips:
- If the boat is anchored or docked and you are swimming in the water, then be sure to steer clear of the engine and propeller.
- As tempting as it may be to have a good time with your fellow boaters, never drink alcohol while boating. Leave the alcohol on dry land to stay sharp on the water!
- Arms and elbows inside the boat! While it’s exciting to point out the dolphin you see swimming in the water, leaning too far over the boat can cause you to fall over the edge.
- If you’re the watercraft operator, safety begins with you! Maintain control of the vessel and the passengers by being focused and alert at all times.
We hope you like our boater safety tips from this month’s Southern Scoop! Since we’ve got you covered from Panama City, Florida to Gulf Shores and Fort Morgan Alabama, make sure to browse on over to our events page to find out about what’s happening in your vacation area! Thank you for being a part of the Southern family, we’ll see you next month with another beach or travel tip!