As the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is a popular boating destination not just for people living in and around Duluth, but for visitors from throughout the country and even around the globe. That means once the warm weather hits, there are a lot of people plying the lake’s waters with all sorts of watercraft. And that doesn’t even take into account the commercial traffic on the lake.
Most people associate traffic accidents only with cars, trucks and other vehicles on roads and highways, but they’re also a common occurrence on the water, especially among boaters who are less experienced or who don’t know or understand the basic concepts of safe boating. While you can’t ensure other boaters are taking proper water safety precautions while on the water, you can control what goes on in your own craft. Here are some basic “safe boater” steps you can – and should – take when heading on on the Big Lake or any other body of water:
- Know the weather. Weather can change quickly, so listen to weather reports before heading out and be conscious of changes in the water, sky or wind that can indicate a storm approaching.
- Wear a life jacket. Statistics show most people who drown during a boating accident are not wearing life jackets. Today’s jackets are lighter weight and more comfortable than ever, so if you’ve been leaving your jacket off because it feels too bulky, invest in a few new ones and make sure everyone wears theirs while on the water.
- Leave the alcohol on land. The effects of alcohol are intensified by bright sun, wind, and noise and vibrations of the boat. You should never operate any boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Make sure your boat lights and radio work before leaving the dock, and have a working, charged fire extinguisher on board – and easily accessible.
- Learn (or review) the rules of navigation. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a downloadable boating and water safety booklet that can help. Click here to view it.
One more water safety tip: Make sure you have enough insurance to protect yourself, your boat, your assets and your passengers in case of a boating accident. At Cartier Agency, we offer an array of insurance products for boats and other recreational vehicles, and we can help you assess your risks so you can get the best coverage for their needs. Give us a call at 800-756-3346 and let us review your coverage today.
Finally, remember: No matter how placid the water or weather may appear when you head out, Mother Nature is always the boss – and both the weather and the lake can be unpredictable. Review these safe boater tips before casting off, and visit the website of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to learn more.