Common Causes of Boating Incidents
Loading, overloading, or improper balance of boats: Know the carrying capacity of your boat and never exceed it. Load people and gear low in the boat, and spread the weight evenly.
Use of alcohol or drugs: Consuming alcohol is unsafe and often illegal when boating. Some drugs—even prescription or over-the-counter drugs—are unsafe for operating equipment such as boats.
Inexperience with equipment: Make sure everyone on board knows and observes the safety practices.
Standing up in a boat: Never stand in a boat. You can fall overboard or capsize the boat. Relieve yourself on shore or in a bucket.
Equipment failure: Keep motor, oars, anchor rope, and PFDs in good repair. Have oars or paddles for backup power.
Inappropriate equipment: Use the right size boat and motor for your group. Have the right type and size of flotation equipment and anchor rope.
Unsafe firearm handling: Agree on zones of fire and that each hunter will tell others when he will fire. Make sure duck hunters shoot from the front seat.
Misuse or non-use of PFDs: Wear your PFD, properly secured, at all times.
Unsecured or improperly secured equipment: Make sure all cargo is lashed down. Keep the bottom of the boat clear of small objects. Control dogs at all times. Secure firearms when not in use.
Wading accidents: Use a staff or branch to test water depth. Feel for slippery boulders. Check your balance before each step.
Falling through ice: Do not go on ice without knowing its thickness. Ask local authorities about ice conditions. Watch for soft ice—streams entering large bodies of water can soften ice. Crossing snow bridges is risky. Do not go on ice to rescue another person. Instead, reach him with a long branch, a piece of clothing. A weighted plastic jug on a line makes a good rescue device.
Weather: Check weather reports before your trip. If black clouds roll in, go to shore. Head into waves at an angle. Anchor your boat securely. If you spot lightning, head for shelter.