Here are a few suggestions for making boating safer:
1. Complete a safety check on your vessel prior to getting underway to ensure you have all required equipment on board. Before leaving your driveway, dock, ramp, or mooring take a look at your safety equipment to ensure you comply with USCG and Commonwealth of Massachusetts laws.
Do you have enough life preservers (PFDs) for all your guests? PFDs must be Coast Guard approved and in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size for the intended user. They should be ready for immediate use and not stored in plastic bags or in closed or locked compartments. We encourage all boaters to wear a PFD when underway. Remember that PFDs are required to be worn by children under the age of 12.
Are you flares expired? Boaters are required to carry 3 flares that can be used both day and night, or 3 day flares and 3 night flares.
Are your navigation lights working? Make sure you can be seen when night falls.
Make sure you have an anchor and enough line in case you plan to anchor or an emergency requires you to anchor. You should carry enough line that is equal to five to seven times the depth of the water you will be underway on.
In addition to the above boats must be equipped with a horn or whistle, a manual bailer, and the registration must be valid.
2. Complete a Float Plan. Let friends and family know where you are going and when you plan to arrive or return. Make sure they know what you boat looks like and who will be aboard. Sample float plans are available at http://www.floatplancentral.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf
3. Operate you vessel at a safe speed in accordance with local laws and current conditions. Speed limits are often posted in congested waterways, but if it is at night or inclement weather has reduced your visibility, you must operate your vessel at an even slower speed. Remember, you could be held liable for any property damage or personal injury that your speed or wake may cause.
4. Take a safe boating course. Since there is no license or "road test" required for operating a boat in Massachusetts, the best way to ensure that you will have an enjoyable and safe day on the water is by taking a safe boating class. Classes are held throughout the year and may even earn you a discount on your insurance! Check out a listing of open classes at http://www.boatus.com/courseline/default.asp, or call 1-800-336-BOAT (2628).