Sea Tow issued safety tips for the Fourth of July weekend, when many boaters take to waterways to enjoy fireworks shows.
Boating at night and in the smoke that fireworks cause can prove challenging. The non-profit Sea Tow Foundation offers these six tips to boaters who are planning to watch holiday fireworks displays from the water:
* Wear your life jacket. Make sure everyone onboard is wearing a traditional life jacket that fits properly or an inflatable PFD. Navigating at night in smoky conditions can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or fog.
* Designate a sober skipper to stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the display is over.
* Watch your weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or near the helm, or look up the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.
* Things look different at night. Remember that in the dark, visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may be invisible. Chart your route to your fireworks-viewing spot in advance, and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it, if necessary.
* Listen up. Follow the directions that the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary issue about where you may safely anchor to view fireworks away from sparks and ash.
* Relax and enjoy the show. Don’t be in a rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the display is over.