blog home Boating Accident How to prep your boat for safety and fun

How to prep your boat for safety and fun

By John Singleton on June 20, 2023

Summer is a great time to be on the water. Fish are biting, and you can breathe that fresh or salty air. My law partner Ken Gibson and I both love to be out on the water.

But unfortunately, with what we do, we see far too many people who were hurt while enjoying the water. 

In 2020 alone, 5,265 boating accidents caused 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries, and $62.5 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.  Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2020, accounting for 18% of the deaths5. Most accidents and injuries occurred during May, June, July, and August. Operators without any boating education were involved in more than 40% of the accidents, injuries, and deaths.

While you can’t prevent others from being careless on the water, you can do everything possible to ensure that your own boat is ready and safe for fun, sun, and fishing. Check everything out before going out, so you’ll be safe on the water.

What’s a good pre-boating checklist?

Start with your registration and make sure all your paperwork is up-to-date. Also, inspect your trailer so you can safely transport your boat, including:

  • Make sure your trailer tires are inflated.
  • Check the spare.
  • Make sure the hitch is secure.
  • Check turn signals.
  • Use tie down straps fore and aft to secure your boat to the trailer

What’s a good  pre-water  checklist?

When you’re in a boat, you have to be ready for anything to happen. It’s very difficult to send back for supplies if you’re out at sea — or even out on a river or lake.

So, make sure all your safety gear is packed and all navigational equipment is fully operational. Here’s a checklist of things to look for:

  • Make sure you have enough flares. Check the expiration date.
  • Eliminate all hazards and obstacles that could cause a fall.
  • Make sure all fire extinguishers are working and the pressure gauge is green.
  • Make sure you have enough personal floatation devices (PFDs) for all passengers.
  • Test the carbon monoxide alarm for your boat and replace batteries if necessary.
  • Check the VHF radio and make sure the antennae is secure.
  • Check all navigational equipment.
  • Make sure your compass is working properly.
  • Restock your first aid kit.

What does my boat need to keep my family and me safe?

Maintaining a boat isn’t easy, but it’s satisfying to care of one if you know what to do.

Here’s a list to help make sure everything goes smoothly when you’re out enjoying your boat:

  • Inspect your boat for any needed repairs.
  • Test the motor.
  • Check the bilge pump.
  • Clean the hull, windows, and hatches.
  • Check the wiper blades.
  • Clean and polish metal.
  • Examine the hull for stress, cracks, and blistering in fiberglass.
  • Inspect the rudder for rust, corrosion, and excessive play.
  • Inspect all wiring for fraying.
  • Check fuses and add spares if necessary.
  • Check all fluids, including oil, transmission fluid, coolant, trim tab oil, and hydraulic fluids.
  • Check the battery and connections.
  • Inspect all hoses and clamps.
  • Check belts for tension and fraying.
  • Check and clean the backfire flame arrestor.
  • Check sparkplugs and replace if necessary.
  • Check fuel lines and tanks for leaks.
  • Check control cables and lubricate if necessary.
  • Inspect the bellows.
  • Clean all drains using a high-pressure hose.
  • Inspect all thru-hulls.
  • Inspect all seacocks.
  • Inspect the lower unit, including gearbox, propeller shaft, and propeller.
  • Clean and grease winches.
  • Remove all trash.
  • Make sure chainplates are secure for safe docking.
  • Inspect sails, trim tabs, spreader boots, shrouds, mastheads, and pulleys.

Were you harmed in a boating accident?

You may be the person who does things the right way and takes the necessary steps to keep your boat working safely. Unfortunately, not everyone is as careful as you are.

If you or a loved one is injured in a Virginia boating accident caused by unsafe conditions or a careless operator, contact us  at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. We serve our neighbors here in Virginia, and we work to prevent boating injuries from happening by sharing safety information.  But when a boating accident happens, we consider it a calling to help those who were harmed with excellence and compassion.

Our firm won’t charge you anything unless we win your case — we call it our Zero Fee Guarantee. Meeting with us to find out if you have a case is also free.   Call us at (804) 413-6777 to learn more. Fair winds and following seas.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.