Michigan Water and Boating: Summer Safety

It’s all fun and games on the water until someone gets hurt. Or worse, a water accident proves to be fatal.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 76 percent of boating and water fatalities could have been prevented if users had been wearing personal flotation devices, or lifejackets. In Michigan, every person on board a 16-foot boat, whether it be motorized or not, must wear lifejacket.

Here are some other safety tips to think about:

  1. Tell someone your boating plan.

Whether it’s a trusted family member, friend or employee at the local marina, tell someone your boating plan. This includes what time you’re leaving, how long you plan to be out, where you plan to go, who is accompanying you, each passenger’s phone number, boat type, registration, and the various communication or signal equipment onboard.

  1. Keep a weather eye on the horizon.

It’s a good idea to know the weather forecast before heading out. In Michigan, weather can change in an instant so you better not take any chances. You never want to be around water if lightning is threatening. Also, get off the water if the temperature suddenly drops, there are rough winds, or cloudy skies.

  1. Don’t drink and “captain.”

It’s best to keep drinks in the cooler until later. Boat skippers need to be alert, attentive and on-duty at all times while operating the vessel. In Michigan, boat captains must follow the same laws and policies as if they were operating a vehicle. You can still be pulled over by law enforcement while on the water and charged with a BUI, or boating under the influence.

  1. Stay calm under pressure.

If you do find yourself in a serious situation while on the water, remember to stay calm. Panicking under pressure will only make the situation worse as you tire faster, can’t make decisions clearly and create an unhealthy atmosphere. Take a moment to remember your training and take control of the situation.

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources coordinate regular boating safety classes in Michigan, and Marine Safety Specialist within DNR Law Enforcement Division, Sgt. Al Bavarskas hosts a free, annual boating safety class at the Detroit Boat Show.

“The class is free and from the law enforcement perspective. You have the opportunity to get real-world advice and tips, as well as certification, from the people that will be looking out for your safety on the water. Most water accidents can be prevented and that starts with a class like this,” said Sgt. Bavarskas.

If you have any further questions regarding boating and water safety, please contact Sgt. Bavarskas.

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Photo Credit: bluecinema

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  1. It’s sad to see that 90% of fatalities could’ve been prevented by a life vest. You would think that wearing one would be common sense. Letting someone know where you are and how long you plan to be out is a smart idea. Thanks for sharing.

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