Oklahoma Boating Safety Tips
Most boating accidents and fatalities are not weather related. Fatalities typically occur in open boats on inland waters when visibility and weather are good. Below is a list of boating accidents that commonly occur. The U.S. Coast Guard has provided tips on how to prevent the specific accident and if an accident should happen what to do.
Swamping and Capsizing
Swapping is when a boat fills with water, while capsizing is when a boat turns over or on its side.
To prevent the chance of swamping or capsizing do the following:
- Always control your speed when turning your boat
- Do not boat in stormy weather or in rough water
- Do not overload your boat with too many passengers and gear. Make sure to balance the load of all passengers and gear.
- Always secure the anchor line to the bow of the boat, never the stern
If you happen to swamp or capsize make sure to:
- Stay with the boat even if you have fallen out and cannot get back in. Your swamped boat will signal to others that you are in trouble.
- If the boat is still afloat, try safely to re-board
- If your boat is swamped or overturned, hang on to it. It will help you stay afloat without having to tread water. If at all possible, try to climb onto the bottom of an overturned boat.
If your boat floats away or sinks:
- Do not panic
- Tread water to float
- If you are wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), make sure it is fastened securely
- Calmly wait for help
- If you are not wearing a PFD then looking for something else to use as a floatation device such as oars, paddles, decoys, or coolers
A boat collision is when a boat collides with another object such as another boat, personal water craft, bridge, dock, etc. Collisions can cause serious damage not only to the boat, but also cause catastrophic injury or death to passengers. Collisions are unfortunately becoming more common due to faster boats and crowded waterways.
It is every boat operator's responsibility to avoid a collision. Operators can prevent collisions by:
- Following all boating navigation rules and regulations
- Keeping a sharp lookout
- Being aware of floating debris
- Never operating a boat while you are consuming alcohol, fatigued, or stressed
- Paying close attention to navigational aids
- Always maintaining a safe speed, especially at night and in congested traffic
- Looking behind you before you make any turn
- Using caution when traveling in the sun's glare on the water
Most injuries and fatalities due to falling overboard could have been avoided if victims had worn their PFDs.
To prevent people from falling overboard you should not allow anyone onboard to:
- Sit on the bow, gunwale, seat backs, or any other area not designed for seating
- Move about the boat when it is moving
- Lean out of small boats
If someone does fall overboard on your boat you need to immediately:
- Reduce speed
- Throw the person a PFD unless they are already wearing one
- Turn the boat around and carefully pull alongside the person
- Stop the engine and pull the person onboard over the stern, keeping the weight in the boat balanced at all times
If you run aground while traveling at high speed, the impact can cause major damage to your boat along with serious injury to you and your passengers.
Knowing your boating environment is the best way to prevent running aground. You should become familiar with the locations of submerged objects and shallow water. When boating you must always be aware that the location of shallow hazards will change as the water level rises and falls. It is important to be able to read a depth chart to determine your position and depth of water.
If you run your boat aground and the impact does not cause a leak, follow these steps to try to get loose:
- Do not put the boat in reverse and instead stop the engine and lift the outdrive
- Shift the weight to the area furthest away from the point of impact
- Try to shove off with a paddle or boathook
- If this fails, use your visual distress signals to flag down another boat. You can also call for assistance using your VHF marine radio
To help prevent a fire on your boat:
- Make sure the ventilation systems have been installed and are working properly
- Maintain the fuel system to avoid leaks
- Do not mix the 3 ingredients of fuel, oxygen, and fire/heat required for a fire to start
If a fire starts while you are boating, follow these steps:
- Stop the boat and have everyone put on a PFD
- Keep the fire downwind
- If the motor catches fire, immediately shut of the fuel supply
- Summon help with you VHF marine radio
- Aim a fire extinguisher at the base of the flames and sweep back and forth
- Never use water on a gasoline, oil, grease or electrical fire as water will spread a gas fire and will act as a conductor for electricity
We can handle your potential legal case if you are in any of these Oklahoma cities. Even if your city is not listed you may still speak with one of our Oklahoma boat accident attorneys by filling out our contact form or calling us toll-free at 1 (866) 664-0400.
Ada, Afton, Altus, Alva, Anadarko, Ardmore, Atoka, Bartlesville, Blackwell, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Chandler, Checotah, Chickasha, Claremore, Clinton, Del City, Duncan, Durant, Edmond, El Reno, Elk City, Enid, Erick, Frederick, Glenpool, Grove, Guthrie, Guymon, Henryetta, Idabel, Lawton, Locust Grove, Mcalester, Miami, Midwest City, Moore, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Okmulgee, Owasso, Pauls Valley, Perry, Ponca City, Poteau, Pryor, Roland, Sallisaw, Sand Springs, Savanna, Shawnee, Stillwater, Stilwell, Stroud, Tahlequah, Tulsa, Vinita, Wagoner, Weatherford, Woodward, Yukon
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