Boating season kicked off on May 5, signaling months of fun ahead for everyone who loves to get out on the water. Most recreational boaters know how to keep themselves safe, but every year accidents and fatalities occur. The 4,291 boating accidents reported by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2017 resulted in 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and $46 million in property damage.

Melanie Bakala State Farm car
While many people think about car safety, boat safety is often overlooked. State Farm agent Melanie Bakala (pictured) wants to make sure everyone has a safe summer.

To avoid becoming one of those statistics, it’s important to prepare in advance and make sure you have the proper equipment. “Cruising on the water in the summer can be fun and create great memories,” says State Farm Agent Melanie Bakala.  “But taking a few minutes to make sure you are safe can help you enjoy the water all summer long.”

One of the key pieces of gear, not surprisingly is a life jacket. Among those who drowned during accidents, 84.5 percent were not wearing one. Here are some other essential items to carry with you:

What to wear:

  • US Coast Guard approved life vest for every rider which must be worn. Larger boats (not PWC’s) must just have them onboard
  • Water shoes to protect your feet
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Depending on weather and water conditions, possibly a wetsuit or even a dry suit if conditions dictate.

Other items to have on board:

  • Signaling devices – visual and sound. Examples would be a whistle and a small mirror
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • A small anchor
  • A length of mooring line in case of needing to tie off to another machine for a tow, preferably a floating line so if dropped it doesn’t sink
  • Melanie Bakala State Farm Boating
    A life jacket is one of the keys to having a safe and fun time while boating. Photo courtesy:

    Navigation lights if the machine is going to be used at night or in low light conditions

  • A dry bag to store important items, such as papers and cell phones
  • Ignition safety lanyard must be worn so if you are thrown from the machine, the engine is disabled and stops
  • Depending on the area where the machine is operated, a compass
  • A small paddle or oar
  • Depending on the waterway, possibly charts for navigation

Another way to prepare in advance is to check on your insurance coverage before leaving shore, says Bakala. “Contact your insurance agent to review your plan and make sure you have the protection you need,” she adds.

Melanie Bakala has offices in both Shelton and Lacey. Learn more by visiting her State Farm Agent website or calling 360-426-2428 (Shelton) or 360-972-7905 (Lacey).


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