Be prepared. It is the slogan of the Boy Scouts of America and a practice that everyone should put into place, boaters included. Being prepared doesn’t just mean planning for the events of today but it also includes accounting for the uncertain. And for anyone who has spent much time on the water, the uncertainties have a way of becoming reality.
Whether you’re heading out to the lake for an afternoon fishing trip or taking the family out on the new boat, it pays to be prepared. A simple pre-departure checklist will help keep you organized and ready for the water. One of the most important safety devices every boat should have is a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. I have always stressed the importance of these devices and their necessity. Every boat should have one life jacket per occupant with at least one extra. This should be number one on your checklist every time you enter a boat, no matter if it is your boat or not.
Number two on your checklist should be a first aid kit. Be sure to include bandages of various sizes along with some type of disinfectant. Clean clothes, tape, and prescribed medication are all equally important. It is also a good idea to supplement your kit with water, sunscreen and an emergency blanket.
You should also remember to include the required U.S. Coast Guard safety equipment. This typically includes asignaling device (horn or whistle), visual distress signals, a fire extinguisher and a throw rope. It is worthy to note that the National Marine Manufacturers Association (N.M.M.A) has certified all Ranger Boats since a fire extinguisher and bilge pump are standard.
Another beneficial item to add to your checklist is a storage box complete with tools for any technical adjustments that need to be made on the water. By keeping these tools and other personal devices in a waterproof storage box, you can increase their longevity and safe keeping. Two way marine radios, a pair of paddles or oars, a suitable compass, an anchor rope and a map of the body of water you are visiting are all important items that should be included in your checklist.
Throughout my career, I have always felt at ease behind the wheel of my Ranger boat. Not just because Ranger has always remained dedicated to safety but also because I was well prepared for the day ahead. By keeping your own personal checklist and reviewing it before every outing, you are not only doing the smart thing but also ensuring a great time on the water. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” And trust me, if your not prepared you’ll wish you were somewhere else.