People go boating in the summer for one reason: to have a good time. Whether you're fishing, sailing, or just floating along, nothing will ruin that good time faster than an accident on the water.
If you want to stay safe -- and keep your passengers safe -- follow these safety tips:
1. Take a safety class.
A class on boating safety can drastically reduce your chance of having an accident. About 700 people die in boating accidents every year. However, only 10 percent of those victims are on a boat where the driver had some kind of safety training.
This advice isn't just for people who own a boat, however. You should take a class even if you simply plan on being a guest on someone else's boat. You can't rely on someone else to ensure your safety.
2. Buy a marine radio.
Cellphones can fail you out on the water, but a good marine radio may save your life.
For around $100 and the time it takes to properly register your radio with a maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) number and connect it to your boat's GPS system, you can take the "search" out of the whole search-and-rescue process that goes into finding stranded or capsized boaters.
3. Use a life jacket.
Not wearing one could be the biggest mistake of your life -- and your last.
The Coast Guard says that 9 out of 10 drowning victims are found without life jackets. Many of the rest are found wearing life jackets that didn't keep their head above water when they became unconscious. This means it's also important to pay attention to the type of life jackets you use.
4. Limit the alcohol.
Finally, the driver of a boat needs to be sober. Drunk boating is every bit as dangerous as drunk driving. An inebriated driver can hit something (or someone), get lost, capsize a boat and make all kinds of critical mistakes.
If you are in a boating accident through no fault of your own, you may have the ability to claim compensation for your losses. This could be significant if your injuries are serious. If you're unsure about your rights, an attorney can provide you with more information.