On-the-Water Safety

Whether your business has employees or you run the show solo, on-the-water safety should be priority #1. Weather, tides, currents, and other boaters can make for difficult conditions, so plan ahead and be prepared.



Boat Safety questions

Keep a close eye on the weather and the tides. Check the weather before you leave the dock and monitor it while out on the water. Sudden wind shifts, lightning, and choppy water can mean a storm may be on the way. Additionally, cold water temperatures, particularly in spring and fall, increase the risk of hypothermia. Make sure your boat lights and radio are functioning properly before leaving the dock. Before you leave, file a float plan with someone onshore. This documents where you are going and when you plan to return, so rescuers know where to look for you if something goes wrong out on the water.

You should always have a radio, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flares, paper maps, and properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Also, boats longer than 16 feet must have a throw-able personal flotation device (PFD). If your boat has any enclosed compartments or a false floor you must carry a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher. Make sure it is charged and accessible. It’s also a good idea to mount a flip-down platform ladder so that if someone falls overboard they can easily climb back aboard.

If your boat breaks down and you are in immediate danger, radio the coast guard. If you're not in immediate danger, you should call the harbormaster or a towing company such as Sea Tow.

If you are in an urgent situation, but neither the people onboard nor the vessel itself pose an imminent risk, you would radio the message “PAN-PAN” which is the international standard urgency signal. If you are in a situation that does pose an immediate danger to someone’s life or to the vessel you would radio “MAYDAY” which is the international standard distress signal. Radioing "PAN-PAN" informs potential rescuers (including emergency services and other craft in the area) that an urgent problem exists, whereas radioing "MAYDAY" calls on them to drop all other activities and immediately begin a rescue.