As Michigan’s annual boating season gets started, the Detroit Free Press released advice that can be easily shared with the boating public. Who better to distribute this information than you, a boat storage facility owner-operator?
To begin, let’s take a closer look at the state boating industry and best practices for enjoying a safe, relaxing season.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe on the water.
With spring officially began in late-April, an abundance of boaters took to the water for their first voyage of the season. Activity had gotten a bit of a kick start this winter, with the Detroit Boat Show bringing in boating owners and companies from across the state in January. The two-weekend event featured a variety of new and used boats for sale, in addition to live music, classes and more. Heading into the spring and summer, boaters will be preparing to take their boats and equipment out on the water, exploring lakes and rivers across Michigan.
Memorial Day weekend will likely bring out a lot of boaters for the summer, with warmer weather conditions making boating activity more favorable.
Annually, about 100 million Americans go boating, with higher activity during the upcoming spring and summer season. The popular activity brings out boaters across metro Detroit, on smaller waterways like the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, while also bringing residents to the Great Lakes and smaller lakes in northern Michigan.
State of the Industry
The national boating industry brings in about $170 billion annually, with boat sales and boat shows bringing in significant funding. This comes at a cost to boat owners, who must invest in the purchase, maintenance and storage of their boats.
Americans spend $49.3 billion annually on keeping up their boats, including the cost of accessories, fuel, insurance and winter storage.
Boaters should follow key practices to stay safe on the water, including driving responsibly, keeping communication devices nearby, and wearing proper protection.
- Boaters should wear life jackets to ensure safe boating and prevent accidents. Life jackets provide crucial assistance in case of emergency, keeping boaters afloat in the water. In fatal boating accidents, 86% of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
- Even confident, experienced, strong swimmers should make it a habit to wear a preserver. A blow to the head can render anyone unconscious, which can lead to drowning.
- Remind your avid boaters to avoid alcohol use while boating to maintain control of the boat and ensure safe navigation. Boating under the influence can impair judgement, balance, vision and reaction time, and increase fatigue. This makes boating dangerous and increases the risk for accidents to occur—putting passengers on board in precarious situations, as well as other watercraft operators and any swimmers in the area.
- Boaters should prepare to keep in touch with authorities if needed. Keep a cell phone or marine radio on hand if you need to call for assistance in an emergency.
- Lastly, boaters should keep emergency supplies on board, accessible to all for safekeeping, including extra water, snacks, flashlight, a lighter, fire starter, foghorn, rope, knife and a mobile phone super charger.
Jenna Prestininzi is a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.