Boating is a popular recreational activity in many parts of the United States, including Nebraska during the warm summer months. Like any activity involving water, boating can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken by boaters.According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 5,265 boating accidents in 2020, resulting in 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Use these boating accident prevention tips to keep yourself and others safe.
Although you do not legally need a license to operate a boat in Nebraska, you should have at least a basic understanding of how to operate the boat you are using. Operators must be at least 14 years of age and – if born after December 31, 1985 – must successfully complete a Boating Safety Course to operate a boat or personal watercraft in Nebraska.
Know Your Boat
Make sure you know how to operate your boat before taking it out on the water. Take the time to learn all of the controls, including how to start the engine, navigate the watercraft and respond in an emergency. You should also be familiar with the safety equipment on board, including the life jackets and fire extinguishers.
Maintain Your Equipment
Part of knowing your boat is keeping it adequately maintained. It is important to ensure that a boat is in good working condition. Proper boat maintenance involves regular inspections of key parts such as the hull and engine. If any equipment is old, outdated, defective or faulty, it is important to replace it. You must also keep your safety equipment up to date, such as replacing expired flares.
Check the Weather and Water Conditions
No matter how prepared and experienced you are as a boater, bad weather can lead to a boat accident. Before you head out on the water, make sure to check the weather forecast where you plan on boating. Storms and high winds can make boating dangerous. It is always best to wait for better conditions if the weather is looking rough. You should also check the water conditions to ensure the waterway isn’t congested or hazardous. If the weather starts to turn while you are boating, return to shore as soon as possible.
Always Boat Sober
It is against the law to operate a motorboat in Nebraska with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or more. This is known as boating under the influence (BUI), and it can result in fines and jail time. Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is just as dangerous as driving while impaired, if not more so. The effects of alcohol can be even more pronounced on the water due to the motion of the boat and the effects of the sun and wind. The person operating the boat should always be sober.
Stay Alert and Pay Attention
Safe boating requires constant vigilance. A distracted boater can make grievous errors, such as striking swimmers or hitting other boats. If you are in charge of operating a boat, remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Constantly scan the waterway ahead for other boats, swimmers, docks and obstacles. Obey all waterway warning signs, including No Wake Zones. Pay attention to changes in the weather, currents and tides.
Watch Your Speed
There may not be roads to follow on the water, but there are still speed limits. Boating too fast for conditions can drastically increase the risk of a boating accident. If a boat accident does occur, speeding can enhance the severity of the injuries suffered. Excessive speeds can make it difficult to control a boat and react to changing waterway situations. Always follow posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to the conditions of the water and weather.If you or a loved one has been involved in a boating accident in Omaha, Knowles Law Firm is here to help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an Omaha personal injury lawyer.