Boat accidents can occur at any time, but especially when there are more boats on the water, like during a long holiday weekend. As a boat operator or passenger, you and your guests should follow the tips below to avoid Virginia boating accident injuries over Memorial Day weekend.
1. Inspect Your Boat, Jet Skis, or Any Other Personal Watercraft Before Embarking
Whether you use your boat or other personal watercraft frequently or not, you should always inspect your vessel before taking it out on the water. Look for signs of damage to the hull, and take stock of safety equipment on board. You should have enough life jackets for everyone on board, as well as an emergency kit that includes flares, an inflatable raft, and first aid supplies.
Keep a fire extinguisher on board and schedule annual inspections.
2. Wear Your Life Jackets
Drowning is a serious risk for boat operators and passengers. Everyone on board should wear a life jacket in case of an accident. If you have children on board, an adult should help them put their life jackets on properly.
3. Use Your Engine Cutoff Switch (ECOS)
Federal law requires that boat operators of vessels less than 26 feet long use an ECOS device attached to their person when traveling over displacement speeds. The ECOS device will stop the engine if it senses that the operator has fallen overboard.
4. Keep an Eye on Weather Reports
While the weather might be beautiful onshore, the weather out on the water could be dangerous for small craft and new boaters with less experience. Watch for marine weather advisories, and heed safety instructions to prevent Virginia boating accident injuries to you or your guests.
5. Avoid Boating at Night or Popular Boat Destinations
New boaters are often excited to take their friends out on their boats for a fun day on the water. However, Memorial Day is one of the busiest times of year for boaters of all experience levels. Try to avoid the most popular boating spots, since more boats can make navigation and dropping anchor more difficult.
Nighttime boating events like fireworks and boat parades may also be a great time out on the water, but boating at night limits visibility. New boaters should avoid boating at night during a busy holiday weekend.
6. Create a Float Plan
Draft an estimated schedule of your boat trip. Include any stops and your expected arrival time back at port. Share your plan with friends, family, or the marina. If something happens, your contacts can provide the Coast Guard and other search parties with your itinerary to guide the search.
7. Don’t Drink and Drive
Just like being behind the wheel of a car, steering a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous. Pledge to stay sober if you’re behind the wheel of a boat this Memorial Day weekend.
While you may be aware of the dangers of boating under the influence, many boaters will likely have a few drinks on the water for the holiday. Having even one drink can reduce your ability to react to other boaters who have been drinking. Watch for erratic behavior from other boaters.
Contact a Boat Accident Attorney in Virginia
If you suffer Virginia boating accident injuries, contact our boat accident attorneys at Geoff McDonald & Associates. We can review your accident report and other evidence to help you build your case. Call us at (804) 888-8888 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with an attorney at our offices in Richmond or Virginia Beach, VA.