Common mistakes to avoid for a safe boating season

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As warmer weather and the Memorial Day weekend approach, officials are reminding boaters to be proactive, not reactive when it comes to their safety. 

Experts across the Miami Valley say many of those proactive tips are simple, but as a result, often get overlooked. 

Officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Sgt. Don Siler said, “Spring time of the year we have a lot of smaller boats going out fishing and things like that. [People] can overload their boats, and overloading means just putting too many people, too much weight in it with all your gear and things like that.”

He said excess weight could cause boats to capsize, or flip over. Another dangerous situation that could have the same outcome is failing to pay attention to characteristics of the water.

“Navigating a river with moving water versus navigating a lake or a pond — two very different perspectives for the operator to keep in mind, said Lt. Trent Shroyer, with Miami Valley Fire District. “Everything from, you know personally used kayaks all the way through boats with motors on them. You definitely need to take into consideration the operator behind that. Make sure you’re proficient [and] you’re able to read the body of water you’re on.”

Experts say some other tips to adhere to every time you go out on the water include:

  • Having a float plan, or a designated person who knows your whereabouts and when to expect your return
  • Paying attention to weather forecasts
  • Having the correct number of life jackets for everyone on board
  • And refraining from overconsumption of alcohol

However, one of the most important factors to address, said Cpt. Ryan McElroy with the Dayton Fire Department, is overconfidence.

“We all love water,” he said. It’s wonderful to be out on a lake. I’ll be out in the lake myself this weekend. But just being overconfident in your abilities. You know, we all have a tendency to over exaggerate, or over overestimate our own abilities.”

Cpt. McElroy added, even if it may be tempting, never operate a boat without the correct licenses or certifications. For more boating tips and resources, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ website by clicking here.

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