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Summer water safety tips for boaters

Summer boating has so much to offer. However, there are a few things to look out for to ensure you stay safe on the water and make the most of your time afloat.

Two boats in a lock, one leaving, while people walk along the towpath

Refresh your general summer water safety advice.

As a boater there are extra things to be aware of and to do:

  • During summer there is likely to be more waterborne traffic. Not all of this traffic will be easily seen, such as kayakers, so be extra vigilant
  • Wear non-slip footwear and keep decks clear of tripping hazards
  • Consider wearing a lifejacket
  • If, unfortunately, you do end up in the water, don't approach the stern of boats (even your own) that have their propellors running
  • Make sure that you have buoyancy aids to hand, even if you're moored up

If you live on, or own, your boat then you should practice your man overboard drill regularly. If you're new to boating there are some simple principles to follow (and then practice!):

  • If a member of your crew goes overboard never jump in to aid their recovery – you may make the situation worse
  • At the earliest, and safest, opportunity, throw a line or buoyancy aid to the person in the water
  • Keep the person in the water in sight at all times
  • In most situations you should put your boat immediately in neutral gear. This will prevent any person being dragged into the propellor. If you're on a river, or wide and deep waterway, you may need to stay in gear to maintain your position in the channel but if any person in the water comes near the boat you should, again, switch to neutral

Ultimately, boating is an incredibly safe and fulfilling way to spend a summer's day (or month). The biggest challenge you're likely to face is wrenching yourself away from the lifestyle and back to normality! That said, and like any other activity, respecting the potential for the unexpected, and preparing for it, gives invaluable peace of mind.

Last Edited: 31 May 2024

photo of a location on the canals
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