As we turn the page from perhaps the worst winter in Michigan weather history, we can be thankful that summer is approaching. And of course, one of the perks of living in Michigan is the beautiful Great Lakes and the other 11,000 inland lakes across the state. More importantly, it is imperative that every person who operates or is recreationally enjoying themselves on a boat to follow proper safety protocols and boating laws.
1) Wear a Life Vest
Life vests do exactly what you think they will do; they will save your life. Overwhelmingly, approximately over 70% of all drowning deaths in the United States result from one not wearing a life vest. In Michigan, it is required that all persons on a boat wear a life vest at all times. Also, it is extremely important that you select the right vest type, which depends on the age and capacity you are operating the boat.
2) Navigate Wisely On the Water
There are no traffic lanes in the open water, so knowing the rules of navigation is extremely important. All boat operators must know the techniques on encountering, crossing, or overtaking different vessels and sails. Additionally, it is paramount to know the differences between lateral and non-lateral markers for the safety of everyone on the boat.
3) Weather Emergencies
Prepare a safety plan in case of an unanticipated weather emergency. Boat operators must make sure that all boating equipment, such as navigation lights and radios are operational. Being proactive and taking prompt action can greatly reduce the risk of danger or death.
4) Boating Laws
Michigan laws strictly regulate the operation of boats for the safety of all persons in the waterways. Boat operators should be cognizant of regulating their speed, maintaining proper distances and directions, and not operating the boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. By operating a boat on Michigan waters, you impliedly consent to alcohol or drug testing by law enforcement!
Just like operating a motor vehicle, it is extremely important that both boat operators and passengers know proper safety protocol. Being proactive and staying informed of boating laws can make for a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone out on the lakes and reduce the risk of personal injuries or death.
By: Fahd Haque, Law Clerk for A. Vince Colella. Comments: Fahd Haque at FHaque@mosscolell.com