Summer in New England provides great opportunities to get out and make memories on the water. Make sure that you and your family bring home only the happiest memories by being prepared and keeping these boating safety tips in mind:

  1. Make sure you have all the required safety gear on board.

This means Type 1 PFDs (life jackets) and other floatation devices, flares and fire extinguishers. Ensure that all flares and fire extinguishers are in working order and not expired. Check local laws to see who is required to wear safety equipment. For instance, in many areas, children under 10 must wear a life jacket at all times. You may also be required to wear a floatation device on smaller crafts.

  1. Observe right of way rules.

Even though the water doesn’t have street signs, there are still right of way rules just like on the road. Learn which vessels have the right of way and the proper ways of passing.

  1. Watch the weather.

Look at the forecast before you leave and check in every so often on a mobile device while you are out. Take small craft advisories seriously. Even if the weather looks manageable from the shore, you can wind up in trouble when wind, waves and current come into play.

  1. Do a mechanical check before heading out for the day.

Check your fluids, ensure that forward and reverse are working and that the engine is operating smoothly. Better to discover a problem while you’re near the shore than when you’re a couple miles out. If you aren’t sure what to look for, ask a more knowledgeable friend for a checklist.

  1. Protect yourself from the sun.

It’s easier to get a serious sunburn than you think. When you are out on the water, you are getting twice as much sun exposure: the sun beats down from above but is also reflected from the water below. Wear water-proof sunscreen and reapply often. Hats and long-sleeve, SPF-protective clothing can also help cut down on your exposure.

  1. Consider a boating safety class.

Whether you are a new boater or one that only gets out once in awhile, a boating safety class can help you brush up on safety skills. You’ll learn how to handle adverse conditions and what to do in an emergency. A class may even lower your boating insurance costs.

The water can be an enormous source of fun, but it needs to be respected. By making sure that you are observing all of the best safety practices, you can prevent injuries and equipment issues while enjoying a great day in the great outdoors.