With the Fourth of July approaching, it is important to keep safety tips in mind to ensure everyone has fun and does not obtain injuries. From commonly overlooked safety violations such as overloading a boat with passengers to leaving the fireworks to the professionals, these are key factors in benefiting everyone’s safety. To read all 10 safety tips, continue reading below.
Many towns and cities around the country will be firing off spectacular community fireworks displays over the water on July 4th. One of the best places to watch these spectacular shows is from a boat. But these festive holiday evening displays can cause crowded, disorienting and smoky conditions on the water. If you are thinking of taking your boat out to watch the fireworks this July 4th, follow these 10 tips from the Sea Tow Foundation to make sure the holiday celebration is safe for everyone.
1. Don’t Drink and Boat
Boating Under the Influence is the leading cause of all boating accidents, incidents and deaths. Always be or designate a Sober Skipper before leaving the dock. This individual will be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the fireworks are over. Take the Sober Skipper Pledge.
2. Wear Your Life Jacket
Make sure everyone on board the boat is wearing a life jacket that fits them properly. Navigating at night in a crowd of other boats amid smoke from a fireworks display can be just as dangerous as boating in inclement weather or fog. Ensure the life jacket is worn over the top of any sweatshirts or jackets. If you need to borrow a life jacket, find one of our nationwide life jacket loaner stations.
3. Watch Your Weight
Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the weight capacity plate on the transom or by the helm; you can also look up the passenger capacity in the builder’s manual.
4. Navigate With Caution
Remember that visual navigation marks that you rely on during the day may be invisible at night. Chart your route to the on-water fireworks viewing zone in advance and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it Also, ensure your running and anchor lights are working properly.
5. Rules For Rafting-Up
If you are rafting up to other vessels to watch the fireworks, have fenders and lines ready as you approach the raft-up, and tell your passengers to keep their entire body inside the boat at all times.
6. Leave It To The Experts
Keep all store-bought fireworks at home and off the boat. Fireworks should only be lit on a flat and level surface; a boat is not stable enough because it will rock and move in the water. In addition, fiberglass is flammable, and the boat’s engine and fuel can pose a serious fire risk when sparks and open flames are present.
7. Flares Are For Emergencies Only
Never fire emergency flares in place of fireworks. They are not intended for this use and often burn hotter and faster than fireworks. It is also unlawful to make a false call for help; you could face severe fines and/or jail time.
8. Stifle The Sparks
Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water handy to put out any sparks that might drift over to your boat from the fireworks display.
9. Sit Back and Relax
Don’t rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor.
10. Listen Up!
Obey U.S. Coast Guard-designated fireworks safety zones and follow their orders or the orders of other local marine authorities – they are only out there to protect you! Details concerning the nature of the fireworks event will be published in Local Notices to Mariners and via Broadcast Notice to Mariners over VHF-FM band radio.