With hot weather rushing into Texas like a freight train, the lakes around Texas are filling with boats and jet skis. If you are a bit rusty in safe boating operations or new to boating, here are some practical tips.
- Make sure your boat is equipped with enough life jackets for the number of people aboard. Children younger than 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while the boat is moving. Also, if you are being towed by a personal watercraft (skiing and tubing), you must wear a lift jacket. It should go without saying, but if you can’t swim, always wear a life jacket. There are too many stories of people drowning in Texas lakes as they were not wearing a life jacket and could not swim.
- Avoid alcohol for the driver of the boat. Just like when you are driving a car, have a designated driver of the boat if others are drinking. The probability of being killed in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved. The laws in Texas prohibit operating any watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Enroll in a boater education class. A great resource is the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Boater Education website. You can find it by clicking here.
- Do not overload your boat. Know the weight limit on your boat and do not overload it. That’s a quick way to see your boat sink.
- Operate at a safe speed. While going fast on the water can be fun, be careful as you can be ticketed for operating a watercraft at a rate of speed “greater than reasonable or prudent.” Also pay attention to those no wake zones.
- Always have at least one passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator of the boat.
- Watch out for low water areas or submerged objects. Nothing will ruin a weekend of boating quicker than hitting something with your prop and being stuck on the lake.
- If you are towing persons (tubing and skiing), they are required to wear life jackets and you are also required to have an observer on board or a wide view rear-view mirror which allows the operator to see the persons being towed. Nighttime waterskiing and tubing are not allowed.
- Keep an eye on the weather. Thunderstorms can pop up quickly on a heated Texas day and you do not want to be out on the water when lightening is in the area.
- Finally, if you are boat owner, you should carry boater liability insurance as you can be sued for any injuries you cause while operating the boat or which occur on your boat.
If you are injured in a boating or other watercraft accident, call us to discuss your options.