Boating Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Fourth of July

COLUMBIA, SC – The Fourth of July is the busiest time of the year for America’s recreational boaters, as reported by the nationwide TowBoatUS on-water towing fleet. This period, encompassing days before and after the holiday, sees many boaters spending extended hours on the water, enjoying activities such as watching fireworks, fishing, and raft-ups.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience this Independence Day, the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has provided four essential tips:

1. Be Anchor Smart

Before setting out on the water, check that your anchoring gear is in top condition. Ensure the bitter end is secured, and inspect all equipment for readiness, especially if you haven’t used it yet this season. Prepare for various anchoring scenarios, such as a picnic hook, extra fenders for raft-ups, or a shoreside tie-up requiring a second line. When you arrive at your spot and set anchor, make sure to let out enough scope for the depth and anticipated weather conditions. Show courtesy in crowded areas and avoid causing disturbances by running into anchorages with a wake or being unaware of others around you.

2. Avoid CO Poisoning

Generators provide boaters with necessary comforts, but it’s crucial to use them safely. Avoid running the generator if you have swimmers in the water at the back of the boat—a common gathering spot for guests on floats and pool toys. This area is often where exhaust ports are located, releasing dangerous and odorless carbon monoxide.

3. Don’t Stress It

Spending a long day on the water can expose you to various stressors like noise, vibration, sun, wind, waves, and motion. The U.S. Coast Guard research indicates that four hours of such exposure can induce “boater’s hypnosis,” slowing reaction times similar to being legally intoxicated. Alcohol can exacerbate these effects, so it’s important to stay mindful. Additionally, manage your boat’s battery usage carefully throughout the day, especially if you plan to play music. TowBoatUS reports a surge in calls for battery jump services immediately after fireworks shows when boaters are ready to head home.

4. Get Home Safely

Before departing from an anchorage, ensure everyone is back aboard and the ladder is up before starting the engine. When leaving a fireworks show, proceed with caution. It’s often safer to wait a few minutes for other boats to clear out and for wakes to subside before departing. Exercise patience and courtesy, and ensure everyone on board is acting as a lookout. Avoid taking shortcuts home after dark to prevent accidents.

Remember: A safe and respectful approach on the water can help ensure everyone enjoys their holiday celebrations. Have a great Fourth of July!

For more information on boating safety, visit the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water at BoatUS Foundation.

Happy Boating!