When you’re planning on renting a boat and spending the day on the water with your family, one of the most important things you need to do is check the weather forecast for your area. Sudden weather changes can be both inconvenient and dangerous - none of us want to get caught in a storm while we’re out on the water, especially if land isn’t close by. It’s always important to check the forecast, but sometimes storms will strike without much notice at all. There are several very important things you should do if bad weather strikes and poses a serious threat to your safety.
Don’t panic. First things first, don’t panic. Panicking does more harm than good and can cause you to think irrationally. Although it may be hard to fight against this instinct, it is critical that you are thinking straight so you know how to properly handle the situation.
Make sure everyone has a life jacket. Always make sure that every passenger has and is wearing a life jacket, including the driver. If the boat capsizes, life or death can be determined by wearing a life jacket.
Reduce your speed. High speeds can reduce visibility during heavy rainfall. You should respond to these weather changes the same way you would when driving a car - slow down. Heavy rain is often accompanied by strong winds and large waves. Slowing down ensures that you are cautiously navigating your boat through the water and can improve visibility.
Use a handheld emergency radio. Storms often pass quickly, but if a storm is so severe that it becomes life-threatening, use a handheld emergency radio to contact help. If you’re boating on a large body of water like the ocean, in the case of an emergency, the Coast Guard will need to pinpoint your location to find you. If there is severe lightning, never use a VHF radio.
Stay down and away from metal. Staying far away from metal will protect you in case your boat gets struck by lightning. Lightning strikes the highest point of the watercraft, and if your boat has no cabin, the best thing to do is to remain low and in the center of the boat. Lowering antennas, fishing rods, or other objects on the top of the boat are advised as well.
The best way to avoid these storms is to check the forecast before you go, and check it as you go. Track VHF radio forecast reports throughout your day and always make sure you have plenty of life jackets on board!
For more resources on safe boating and tips, visit our website www.rentalboatsafety.com!