GLOUCESTER –With the summer season in full swing, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Police Chief Edward Conley, Fire Chief Eric Smith and Harbormaster T.J. Ciarametaro wish to share boating safety tips for Gloucester residents and visitors.
“Gloucester is fortunate to have a vibrant harbor and access to the ocean to support recreational boating, and we want everyone to enjoy their time on the water,” Harbormaster Ciarametaro said. “It’s imperative that everyone is responsible and safe while operating their boats, however. Taking a boating course and getting a free vessel check can save a life.”
“It’s crucial for people to check the weather before they go out on the water, children wear life jackets, and no one operates a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Chief Smith said. “It’s also important for everyone to take steps to protect themselves from the elements while they’re boating, which includes wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated and packing a change of clothes.”
To prevent accidents and injury, the National Safety Council offers several safety tips for boaters:
- Take a boating safety course. Click here to locate a local boating safety course through the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division’s website.
- Get a free vessel safety check. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations.
- Know the state boating laws. To read a summary of Massachusetts boating law, click here.
- Be aware of carbon monoxide and carbon monoxide symptoms, which include headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness. In severe carbon monoxide poisoning cases, symptoms also include mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and death. Maintain fresh air circulation throughout the boat and educate all passengers about where carbon monoxide may accumulate.
- Follow a pre-departure checklist. Make a list of necessary gear and check it before departing from a dock or land. To review federal requirements for recreational boats, click here.
- Develop a float plan. Let a family member or staff at a local marina know where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone. A float plan can include the following information: name, address, phone number of trip leader and passengers, boat type and registration information, trip itinerary and types of communication and signal equipment on-board. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a free float plan template.
- Bring an extra set of clothes and dress appropriately for the weather.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Know the nautical rules of the road. Maintain a proper lookout, be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids.
- Avoid alcohol. Operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal. Nearly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. Designate a sober skipper before leaving the dock.
- Watch the weather. Always check local, route and destination weather and water conditions before going boating. If you notice the weather changing suddenly or see storm clouds, it’s recommended you go back to land.
- Before leaving, make sure the towline is not stuck in the propeller or wrapped around you.
- Stay clear of the engine. Drivers should wear the boat’s engine cut-off switch lanyard at all times. Keep watch around the propeller area when people are in the water. Never allow passengers to board or exit your boat from the water when engines are on, or idling. Take extra precautions near boats towing skiers or tubers.
- Enjoy recreational activities during daylight hours.
- Practice sun safety: always wear sunscreen, seek shaded areas and protect your skin from direct sun exposure.
The City of Gloucester also reminds boaters never to speed, especially in crowded areas; to give large vessels that cannot turn quickly a wide berth; and never swim in a marina.