5 boating safety tips for the best Aussie summer

5 boating safety tips for the best Aussie summer

Summer days in Australia are perfect for long lazy afternoons onboard, trips to nearby Islands, and action-packed water sport adventures. Whatever you love to do onboard, it’s important to keep safety at the front of your mind – that way everyone gets home safely.

Here are our top 5 safety tips to help you stay safe this summer.

1. Check the weather (then check it again)

Every experienced sailor knows the importance of checking the weather before a boating trip. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) shares up-to-date forecast information on its website and app, and offers a five-point checklist for people planning a boat trip. BoM says that before you launch, it’s important to ask:

  • Are weather warnings current in the area I am boating in?
  • Will weather conditions impact my safe navigation and comfort?
  • When is high and low tide occurring next?
  • What kind of wave conditions are out there?
  • What kind of wind trends can I expect?

2. Wear a lifejacket

According to Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), there have been 671 boating related deaths since 2004 in Australia. In 71% of these cases, the people who died were not wearing a lifejacket. Shane Daw ESM, SLSA General Manager of Coastal Safety shared this statement on the SLSA website.

“No one intends to get into trouble while they’re out on the water, but time and time again we see people who fall, slip, are washed off rocks, have an accident, have a medical incident or get into some type of trouble and were not wearing a lifejacket; with research showing that in many cases the result is fatal.” 

Daw says a life jacket should be considered with the same logic as a seatbelt.

“We all wear seatbelts, because we know that in the event that we have an accident, which in their nature are always unpredictable, we know that we have a much better chance of keeping ourselves safe and saving our lives – why then don’t we apply this logic to wearing lifejackets?”

Everyone on board a boat should wear an approved lifejacket. The type of lifejacket you need will depend on how far you are from shore and the size of your vessel. Head here for information relating to lifejacket regulations in Western Australia.

Tip: Google ‘lifejacket regulations’ and the name of your state or territory to find up to date information in your area.

3. Always carry an EPIRB

A compliant Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) should be carried at all times when you’re boating. In Western Australia, an EPIRB is required if a vessel is over two nautical miles from shore, or over 400 metres from an island that is two nautical miles from mainland.

An EPIRB is a distress beacon that emits a signal to rescue authorities in life threatening situations. This signal contains the location of the beacon, which authorities use to pinpoint the distressed vessel and rescue the crew as efficiently as possible.

There are now laws governing the mandatory use of float-free EPIRBs for commercial vessels in Australia. A float-free EPIRB is activated automatically when a vessel is one to four metres beneath the water. This ensures a signal is transmitted, even if crew do not have time to manually activate the EPIRB.

Tip: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has a step-by-step guide for choosing the right EPIRB for your needs.

4. Know how to swim

Knowing how to handle yourself in the water is so important for staying safe while boating. No one plans to be in the water, but in the unfortunate event of an incident, it is so important to know how to stay calm and take care of yourself.

If you don’t feel confident in your swimming ability, we recommend attending adult swimming classes to boost your skills. There are plenty of beginner adult swim classes available, all over Australia. Simply perform a Google search to find one near you.

Once you have built up your confidence and skills in a pool, it is worth gaining practice in the kind of water you boat in most. If that’s the ocean, join a recreational swimming group or swim with a buddy close to shore. That way, you’re more prepared for the type of conditions you may have to face in an emergency.

Tip: Preparing for the worst is essential for staying safe on the water.

5. Have a pre-boating checklist

When you’re gearing up for a boating adventure, it can be easy to forget simple yet important things that play a big role in keeping you and your crew safe onboard. That’s why having a checklist is an effective way to tick off those important safety items.

The questions below will give you a good starting checklist:

  • What is the weather doing?
  • Is my boat rego and license up to date?
  • Am I familiar with the area I am boating in?
  • Do I have life jackets for each passenger?
  • Are they the right size and up to date?
  • Is all of my safety equipment working correctly? (Including my compliant EPIRB.)
  • Do I have all of the safety equipment required by law?
  • Is there enough food and water onboard (plus extra, just in case)?
  • Does my boat have any defects or require repair?
  • Do my passengers know where safety equipment is stored?
  • Do they know how to use the safety equipment?
  • Does a reliable person know about my boating plan? Be sure to tell them who is with you, where you are going, when you are returning, and the kind of EPIRB you are using.
  • Have I brought enough fuel for the trip (plus extra)?

Tip: These are just some of the points your pre-departure checklist should cover. Download a DIY Boating Safety Checklist from the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads here.

Have you checked your marine cover?

Now is a good time to make sure your boat is adequately covered for the Summer months ahead. We can review your existing marine cover, to make sure it is still the right product for you. Or we can recommend marine cover for a new purchase, which matches your budget and needs.

Contact Coast Insurance to get started, and stay safe out there!