Give trailer, boat a thorough inspection

The July 4 weekend is the bus­iest time of the year for recreational boating, and therefore, the per

There will be 59 million boaters on the water celebrating the July 4th holiday this weekend, according to the National Marine Man­ufacturers Association.

It’s the bus­iest time of the year for recreational boating, and therefore, the perfect time to review boating safety and common-sense rules to make your time on the

water fun-filled and safe.

Boating safety really begins at home — before you even leave for the lake — with a trailer inspection. The three biggest causes for trouble on a boat trailer are neglected or uninspected tires, wheel bearings and trailer lights. It takes only a few minutes to check them.

Faulty lights can be a definite safety hazard, especially at night, and when those flashing red lights appear in your rearview mirror, those inoperative trailer lights can also result in added expense.

A visual inspection of the tires will reveal wear or damage, and an air gauge will quickly tell you if your tire pressure is right. And don’t forget the spare tire. If you don’t have one, you should.

As for the bearings, most trailers have bearing buddies and adding grease when needed will save breakdown problems on the highway. If you don’t have bearing buddies, tire-pulling is required for inspection. You can do it yourself, or you can let the experts do it at your marine dealer.

One other very important boater safety tip for both before and on the water is to exercise caution when fueling.

Taking on gas isn’t something that is done casually. When fueling, shut off the engine and all electricity on the boat. Obviously, there should be no smoking or open flames nearby.

Boats with enclosed engine/fuel compartments should be checked and free of fuel vapors. Be sure you maintain nozzle contact with the fill pipe, do not leave the fuel filling nozzle unattended, thoroughly wipe up any fuel spills immediately and don’t overfill your tank. Lastly, before starting the engine, check enclosed bilge compartments for leakage and odors, and ventilate accordingly until odors are gone.

Do you wear your personal flot­ation device (PFD) while your boat is under way? No? Neither do the majority of boaters you see on the water. But the U.S. Coast Guard recommends wearing them whenever the gas engine is in operation. However, children 12 years old and younger must wear a personal

flotation device on board any vessel unless in a fully enclosed cabin.

Even though most boaters don’t wear PFDs, you still must have one for everyone in the boat. Keep them where they are easily accessible, not locked in a compartment. When they’re needed, they should be accessible.

Now because of the additional boating traffic on the water this holiday weekend, boaters will have to be more aware of other vessels, skiers, swimmers and especially the wakes of other boats. Always operate your boat at safe speeds, those that allow you to be in full control. Obey the lake’s speed limits, and remember: You are responsible for your wake.

If you’ll be water skiing, tubing, etc., remember in addition to the driver, you are required to have an observer on board. The skier must have a Coast Guard-approved PFD, and it’s a good idea for both the driver and observer to also wear PFDs. Why? Because in the event of a mishap to the skier, they may have to jump in to the water to assist.

You should do all skiing in a safe and uncrowded open-water area, not in rough water.

Always be courteous and considerate of others on the water. This includes at the launch, too. If there’s a boater having trouble getting his boat into or out of the water, don’t get aggravated with them. Instead, offer some help. And when you’re motoring around the lake and see a fisherman, whether anchored or not, stay out in the open water and give him plenty of room.

More than 1,000 people die in boating accidents every year, and nine out of 10 drown. About half of these deaths involve alcohol.

Many of our lakes have holiday fireworks displays planned which begin after dark. More boaters than usual will be on the water and heading out and returning after sunset. If you’ve driven on water at night, you know it’s very easy to get disoriented, and judging distance can be equally difficult. Add an alcohol-drinking driver to the mix, and there’s an accident waiting to happen.

The law on boats and alcohol is clear. You cannot operate a vessel on the waters of New York state while impaired or intoxicated either through alcohol or drugs. Penalties can include heavy fines, imprisonment and suspension of operator privileges. If you’re stopped and refuse to submit to a breath test, your privileges can be immediately suspended. There is zero tolerance for those under 21 caught drinking while driving.

Because most of the accidents happen after the fireworks displays when everyone is headed in, it’s

always a good idea to have several other people on board as lookouts. The more eyes the better. Be sure to turn on all bow and stern lights and reduce your speed to “very slow.” And everyone on board should be wearing PFDs.

Have a great weekend, enjoy your boating and fishing and keep it safe.

Categories: Sports

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