Safety Tips for Nighttime Boating

It’s summertime and if you own a boat, you have probably thought about taking a nighttime cruise down the lake.

It’s a great thought, but when you are boating after dark in Illinois, you need to think about staying safe, as you enjoy the calm water and starry sky.

We have composed a list of seven things to keep in mind before you hit the water and once you are out on the lake:

1.      Have a plan and tools to help if something goes wrong. Do not go boating at night in unfamiliar places. You can’t see as well in the dark, so stick to where you know the ropes. Remember to have the correct navigational tools, because things look different in the dark, in case you get lost.

2.      Share your plan. Always give a friend or family member your “float plan.” This includes where you are going, your boat’s description, who is with you, and what time you plan on being back.

3.      Check and dress for the weather. On top of the other difficulties of taking a boat ride at night. You want to be comfortable, so wear clothes appropriate for the weather. Bring a sweatshirt, blanket and extra towels; you never know they might come in handy.

4.      Do a pre-trip inspection. You should do this for a day trip as well, but at night an inspection is crucial. Make sure your navigation lights work. You will need a horn, plenty of fuel, a radio, a flashlight, flares, fire extinguishers and life jackets for all passengers.

5.      Slow down. Speed is a factor in many boating accidents and with limited visibility at night; speed makes the water even more dangerous. You probably won’t be the only one on the water at night, so remember the right-of-way rules.  

6.      Pay attention. Know how to monitor the navigation lights of other vessels to recognize which direction they are going. Be cautious about small vessels, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as anchored or drifting boats. Their lights can be easily confused with lights onshore.

7.      Don’t get distracted or drunk. It is never okay to drink and operate a boat, please make sure you have a designated driver. Even though you are out there to have fun, be sure that you can still hear the sounds of approaching vessels. Keep the stereo low and your ears open.

Yes, these tips are important, but there is nothing like experience to help ensure a safe nighttime boat ride. If you are a new boater or just in an unfamiliar boat, you may want to put in more hours during the day before you try and tackle a nighttime cruise. Start with short evenings out and work your way up to a moonlight ride. Don’t forget to turn on the lights at the dock before you go!

Frimark/Keller & Associates is a full service Trusted Choice Insurance Agency. We have protected the residents and businesses of Schaumburg and Park Ridge since 1910. We offer a full array of personal insurance, business insurance and life insurance products. Call us at 847-907-4520!

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