Summertime is all about water—water to hydrate, sprinklers to cool down, beaches to listen to waves and boats for adventure. Water can be your best friend but also your most unpredictable one. Every time you go on a boat it’s a new experience. A boat can be a big investment but with the proper care and liability insurance a boat can transform your summer time activities. Stay safe with these five tips for boating safely this summer.

1. Pre-Departure Checklist
If it’s a vehicle there is always a safety checklist. Just like when you check your mirrors when you get into the car, you need to check a few things every time you get into a boat. Always:

• Check fuel levels
• Check lights
• Check engine and be wary of excessive fuel vapors
• Test radio/satellite phones
• Check local weather report
• Go over emergency plan with passengers

2. Designated Driver
Driving a boat isn’t as easy as it looks, and anyone dealing with large bodies of open water needs to be alert and aware of their surroundings. Drinking on the boat may be a summer tradition for many, but it’s important to always have a designated operator. Make someone the honorary Captain for the day.

3. Proper Equipment
There are certain items that are necessary for every boat ride, regardless of the length of the trip.

Each passenger must have their own personal flotation device (PFD) and children should be wearing them at all times. Forgetting to attach floaters to your keys before going out on the water is a mistake you’ll only make once. Don’t learn the hard way.

Much like your car, you should always have your boat certification and registration on hand. It’s also worth mentioning that if your boat has towing policy paperwork, you should have that on board too.

Finally, always have a working fire extinguisher and survival kit. Being prepared can minimize the risk of accidents.

4. Shut off Engines
Since most of the engine is below the water, people tend to forget its tremendous power. Remember the Naut Guilty incident near Spectacle Island, MA at the beginning of the summer? A propeller can critically injure someone in the blink of an eye, which is why being aware of your engine is such an important part of safe boating. Always cut the engine whenever passengers are in the water, if you’re loading or unloading cargo or for any other recreational water activities that take place outside of the boat.

5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
The water is a different world, and each area has their own local boating rules and regulations. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your area laws before going out. You also always need to be aware of water conditions, other vessels and wildlife while on the water. The more time you have to react, the more likely you are to avoid an accident.

Boating is one of summer’s best activities, and if you follow our safety tips you’ll sleep well knowing you’ve done everything you can to have an incident-free summer on the water.