State Farm Offers Boating Safety Tips to Maryland Residents
Frederick, Md., May 23, 2012 With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of summer, State Farm® wants to remind Maryland residents the importance of boating safety. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 70 percent of all boating accidents are the result of operator error. By taking the proper precautions, you can safely enjoy your time on the water.
Take a boating safety course - Maryland law requires anyone born on or after July 1, 1972, to have a Certificate of Boating Safety Education in order to operate a mechanically propelled vessel in Maryland waters. The state provides classroom and online programs or an equivalency exam to obtain certification. To learn more about these options, visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/boating/safety/basiccourse.asp.
Get your boat inspected - If you're not sure if your boat is safe, get it inspected. The U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Safety Check Program is a fast, free and great way to check your compliance with state and federal boating laws.
Ensure your trailer and towing vehicle are the right fit - An illfitting trailer can lead to unbalanced loads and hull damage. To prevent damage, make sure the trailer, hitch and towing vehicle can all handle the weight of the boat. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual should provide more information on its capabilities, and a good rule for trailers is the load shouldn’t exceed 85 percent of the trailer’s total capacity.
Know the waters - Even familiar waterways can carry hidden hazards. Purchase and carry charts of any water you plan to visit and, if possible, ask other boaters or marina operators of any known problem areas that may not be marked.
Know the weather - Always check the marine weather forecast before you set sail. Knowing the weather forecast will help keep you out of rapidly changing or dangerous conditions.
Prepare a float plan - A float plan is a document listing important information about your boat and its passengers, expected location and onboard emergency equipment. Fill out the plan before every outing and leave it with a trusted neighbor or relative with instructions to contact the Coast Guard or other appropriate authorities if you don’t arrive home by an expected time.
Wear a life jacket - A life jacket should be available for each person aboard. Jackets should fit snugly and be the appropriate size; adult jackets will not work for children. Test jackets once a year for wear and buoyancy.
Be aware of carbon monoxide - Boat engines produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas. Poor cabin ventilation and faulty equipment can contribute to the problem. Install carbon monoxide detectors on your boat and be aware of the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as headaches, nausea, weakness and irritated eyes.
Stay alert and sober - Prolonged exposure to the sun, wind and boat vibrations can lead to a condition called “boaters fatigue,” which can impact your response time and decisionmaking skills as though you were drunk. And speaking of drinking, it is illegal and a violation of federal law to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you’re bringing alcohol aboard, designate a qualified operator to stay sober.
At the end of the day, your boat is an investment and accidents do happen. Make sure you have boat insurance to protect yourself before you get into the water. To learn more about boat insurance, please visit the State Farm Boat Insurance Basics page.
Contact Anna Bryant State Farm Public Affairs (202) 263-4404
About State Farm®
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts - more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.