Best Practices for Staying Safe on the Water

You probably know all the basics: Keep your gear in good order, have the right safety gear, don't take chances on the weather. But water safety goes further than that. The water can be beautiful, fun, and exciting, but that doesn't mean it's not dangerous, too. Forgetting that can lead to serious accidents, if not worse. However, staying smart will mitigate these dangers, without making your water time any less enjoyable.

One of the first steps is to understand exactly why the water is dangerous. You might think "I know how to swim, so I'll be alright". Unfortunately, that's just not true. Many drowning victims know how to swim and some are even accomplished swimmers. The real danger comes from not being able to respond to a drowning situation. If you're unconscious, injured, or tangled up, knowing how to swim won't help you. It sounds simple and obvious, but avoiding even the possibility for this kind of trouble makes for a much safer day on the water.

Flotation devices such as life-jackets are specifically designed with incapacitated victims in mind. Despite this, most people fail to use them, often because they can be uncomfortable. A good way to solve this problem is to find life-jackets specifically designed for wearability, such as full jacket floatation. These are much more comfortable, while still providing the necessary safety.

Another important factor in water safety is planning for location. Obviously, crowded waters or waters plied by heavy boat traffic shouldn't be considered for water activities, but that's not what planning for location means in this case. Planning for location means preparing for the specific problems that could arise in a given location. For example, boat engine trouble at sea can become very serious if the craft is not equipped with a radio. Checking the weather forecasts is necessary before venturing out on large lakes or coastal regions. Even more importantly, taking the appropriate charts or GPS systems can prevent a great deal of trouble in unfamiliar areas.

However, the most important water safety measure is also the most likely to be overlooked or ignored. Make sure that someone - family members, friends, or authorities - have a good idea where you intend to be. In this way, in the event of trouble, rescuers will have a starting point from which to look. Many accidents have been avoided because victims left an itinerary with the authorities.

Simply put, safety is not complicated. Foreseeing possible trouble is easily done and most problems are easily prepared for. Failing to do so when possible would be intentional negligence. After all, spending a few minutes now can save a great deal of time.