Inflatable boats such as white water rafts, canoes, kayaks, etc. are extensively available and made water sports a mainstream activity.
While a reliable and high-quality boat can be helpful it is also critical to practice safety and take precautionary measures with an inflatable to avoid accidents. Mishaps at sea are easily caused by ill-preparedness, ignorance, and negligence.
Here are eleven tips for staying safe while in control of the inflatable boat:
1 – Alert skipper
Similar to road vehicles, avoid operating the inflatable when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or at times of illness. Controlling the boat on rough waters can require an alert and quick mind so make sure the skipper is always in a position to instantly make the proper handling decision.
2 – Boat safety course
A practical method to enhance the boating knowledge and navigation skills is to complete a boat safety course. An in-class or online course can teach everything there is to know about the safety operation of the boat.
3 – Boat skills
Be familiar with the all-round handling skills of the inflatable before venturing out on the water. Get experienced before taking charge of the inflatable and rely on those with experience or use less challenging and shallow water to get a full appreciation of using the boat.
4 – Life jackets
To comply with local rules and regulations make sure a life jacket is made available for each person on board the inflatable. Plus, the life jackets should be at the correct size (adult or child) to match those on the boat.
5 – Outboard motor
Give the outboard motor a test and visual inspection before setting off to ensure it is fully operational. Also, ensure there is enough fuel (with some spare) to complete the intended trip.
6 – Safety equipment
Make sure the inflatable boat is outfitted with the essential safety equipment before leaving port. Compile a checklist of safety equipment that can be quickly checked before setting off. Essential safety equipment includes:
- Emergency repair kit
- First aid kit
- Handheld radio
- Life jackets
- Mobile phone
- Personal floatation device
7 – Seated position
Passengers should stay in a seated position while the inflatable is moving to increase safety and avoid falling overboard.
8 – Shore party
Let a nominated person know the intended itinerary, how long you expect to be out, and personal details of those on-board.
9 – Swimmers
Avoid unsafe areas such as those that attract swimmers or other water sport activities. If it is necessary to pass through an area with swimmers make sure to keep a watchful eye on the water to avoid any mishaps.
10 – Taking passengers
A backup skipper or at least someone with knowledge of operating an inflatable is certain to benefit when passengers are on board. A nominated person should be available to take control of the boat in the event something happens to the skipper.
11 – Water regulations
Make sure to have a practical understanding of the local water regulations for the body of water that you intend on using. Check with the local authorities if you aren’t entirely sure of what is involved.