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Labor day boating safety tips for an end-of-summer ritual

by Scott Croft 2 Sep 11:15 PDT September 5-7, 2020
Could you find your flares in this locker if you had to? © Scott Croft

For the nation's 12 million boat owners, Labor Day weekend is the last blast, with many enjoying the end-of-summer boating ritual with family and friends aboard, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). The national advocacy, services and safety group cautions, however, that boating traffic and complacency could be safety concerns.

BoatUS's nationwide on-water towing fleet, TowBoatUS, forecasts an increase in number of boaters on the water this three-day Labor Day holiday period. "Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are the 1-2-3 peak boating weekends of the year in terms of the volume of requests from boaters needing towing assistance services," said BoatUS Vice President of Towing Services John Condon. "This gives us a fair barometer of boating traffic. However, social distancing guidelines from COVID-19 and the subsequent increase in boat sales already has led our fleet to respond to an average of 20% more calls than last summer. This Labor Day holiday, all bets are off. If the weather holds, that number will likely go up."

BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner says, "At this time of year complacency can set in. You've had a safe boating season up to now, but don't let your guard down just yet." Sensenbrenner offers these end-of-summer boating safety tips:

  • Do you know where your flares are, or did you bury them under the inner tube in the back lazarette?
  • Are life jackets serviceable, or has the dog eaten one? Have you periodically inspected any inflatable life jackets?
  • Is your throwable (Type IV) personal floatation device still at the helm within easy reach, or did a guest hide it in the back under the stern seat?
  • Are all of your navigation lights still working?
  • Have you checked your U.S. Coast Guard Local Notice for Mariners lately to see if anything has changed, such as recent storms affecting navigation or infrastructure work?
  • Over the course of the summer, have your boat trailer's safety chains accidentally dragged on the pavement leaving them compromised? Are brake lights still operable?
  • Want to learn more about boating safety? Take a free online boating safety course from the Foundation at BoatUS.org/Free.

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