Don’t Be a Dumbass on the Water – Tips for Staying Safe this Summer

Boating Safety Oregon

Last updated on November 1st, 2017 at 05:11 pm

Here in Oregon, we’re blessed with many ways of enjoying some high-quality natural H20. And in this so-far-inexplicably hot summer, spending time on, in, or around water never sounded better. But whether you’re on the ocean or on the river; whether you’re boating, canoeing, rafting, or floating, it’s important to know how to stay safe out there.

First, The Obvious

Before you go on, in, or near any kind of water, you need to know how to swim (I know, shocker). Whether that means signing up for classes, having a friend teach you, or figuring it out on your own at a public pool (because lifeguards), you just need to know how to swim. There’s no way around it.

In addition, it would behoove you to be familiar with various maritime survival techniques. This includes knowing how to float (which most swim classes will teach you before they actually teach you how to swim) and how to turn various objects into improvised flotation devices. Such devices include garbage bags, empty jugs or gas cans, and… your pants.

So to turn your pants into a flotation device, you’ll first have to take them off (this isn’t an invitation, don’t get too excited). If you’re already in the water by the time you’re turning your pants into lifesaver, you’ll have to tread for a minute until everything is ready. Start by knotting each leg closed as quickly and tightly as possible, and be sure to also button and zip the pants. Wring your pants out as best you can so they can be some semblance of dry, and then whirl them over your head by the waist to fill the legs with air. Knot the waist closed and bam, your pants will now help keep you afloat.

Note: If you are ever in an overboard situation, you might have to remove any excess weight–that means shoes, jewelry, layers of clothing, etc. My advice? Try not to take anything on a boat that you wouldn’t want to lose.

Know Maritime Traffic

Unfortunately, there are just too many different scenarios for me to lay out here to adequately teach you about how to maneuver your boat. Fortunately, Wikipedia (of all places) has a user-friendly list of international maritime guidelines (complete with a comprehensive history, because yay knowledge!). The second-most readily available maritime guide is the Maritime Traffic Safety Law according to China, which I don’t really think you need (or want, for that matter).

Note: It should go without saying, but there is less friction between a boat’s smooth hull and water than there is between rubber tires and asphalt. It takes substantially longer for a boat to slow down and stop than you’ll think, so take extra care to leave enough space.

Boat-Load of Beered-Up Fishermen

Bonus points if you know what movie that’s from (tell us your guesses in the comments section!). I know it’s popular to drink while out on the water, whatever type of water that you’re on. But DUII laws apply to boats just as they do any other kind of vehicle. If you’re a passenger aboard a boat with alcohol on board, drink responsibly. If you’re the captain, don’t drink at all.

Lastly, as with every other time you venture out into nature, leave no trace. Keep all trash within the boat, don’t dump anything into the water, and clean up any docks or shores where you spend time. Keep it clean, stay safe, and have fun out there!