Set Sail Safely This Summer With These Boating and Swimming Tips
Summertime means boating season in the Pacific Northwest! But before you set sail in Puget Sound, ensure you're running a tight ship with the latest safety information.
Boating can be the perfect recreational activity for you and your family and friends, but it can be dangerous if safety measures aren't taken.
Jordan Collier, DO, EvergreenHealth Primary Care in Redmond, shares important tips about how you can be boat safe and make sure you're fun in the sun doesn't come undone.
- Invest in swim lessons. There isn't a standard age to start your child on swim lessons but be sure to get them started at an early age, especially if you plan on taking them out on the water. If you don't know how to swim, enroll yourself in swim lessons so that you'll be ready for that boat party invitation or impromptu family fishing trip.
- Use a buddy system. It's risky head out on the water or going swimming by yourself. Having someone with you allows you both to look out for one another.
- Wear a life jacket. It's one of the simplest yet most important things you can do while out on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard found that in 2021, 83% of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing life jackets. Life jackets are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes – see how to choose the right life jacket (PDF).
- Designate a flagger. If you've parked your vessel out on the lake and are going for a dip there should be someone on the boat holding up a brightly colored flag, typically orange colored. This is to signal to other boaters or jet skiers there are people in the water and to keep their distance.
- Don't dive in too quickly: While it may be exhilarating to dive from the deck of your boat, you should first become familiar with the waters around your boat. Be sure you know the depth, possible obstructions and any sea life in the area.
- Designate a sober driver. Same as on the road, whoever is driving the boat must be sober. Alcohol use is the primary contributing factor in recreational boating accidents.
- Check the temperature: Waters across Washington state are usually cold enough to cause hypothermia even in the summertime.
- Check the conditions: Prior to any recreational activity, take a moment to learn how rough the water conditions are and whether boating or swimming is a good idea. The National Weather Service provides information online to check marine conditions now and into the future.
The Washington State Department of Health's Water Safety page has more resources on where to find affordable life jackets as well as beach advisories and how to obtain your Boater Education Card from Washington State Parks.