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Boating Safety Tips To Help Prevent a Pennsylvania Boating Accident

life ring hanging on boat

A boat capsized on Sunday afternoon in the Susquehanna River, causing one person to be hospitalized. The accident happened close to the 100 block on Collins Road.

Both people who were on the boat during the accident were on shore when first responders arrived on the scene.

While this accident did not have a tragic end, each situation is different. Incidents like the one on Sunday highlight the need for boaters to take the proper precautions to help lower the risk of an accident.

Below, Schmidt Kramer presents several safety tips to prevent a boating accident, explaining how these strategies can mitigate some of the dangers of being out on the water.

If you or a loved one were injured in a boating accident caused by the negligence of another, our Harrisburg personal injury lawyers may be able to help you. An initial consultation with an experienced lawyer is free of charge and if you hire our firm, there are no upfront fees.

Contact Schmidt Kramer today: (717) 727-2550.

Essential Strategies for Boating Safety

There is an old proverb about preventing problems: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This applies to boating accident prevention and the prevention of serious injuries if an accident does occur.

Here are some proactive steps boaters can take to prevent disaster before even going out on the water:

Educate Yourself on Boating Safety

Everyone can benefit from boating safety education, even people who have a lot of experience out on the water. If you are going out with newcomers or people who have not spent much time on boats, you should take a few minutes to review basic safety tips. For example, you could explain what to avoid and what steps to take in a crisis.

Pennsylvania requires you to obtain a boating safety education certificate to operate personal watercraft or if you were born on or after January 1, 1982, and want to operate a boat with more than 25 horsepower.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission offers online courses for your convenience. You can also take a state-approved boating course at

Boating safety courses offer comprehensive training to help you stay safe out on the water:

  • Maritime Laws: Boaters need to know state regulations to make sure they are compliant.
  • Handling and Maneuvering: Boaters learn effective techniques for safely operating and maneuvering in many conditions and environments.
  • Emergency Procedures: While you want to avoid crises, sometimes they happen, and you need to know what to do. For instance, you need to know how to signal for help, what to do if your boat capsizes and how to respond if someone falls overboard.
  • Life-Saving Devices: Boater education courses explain what you need to know about life jackets, throwable life rings, fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
  • Weather and Environmental Awareness: Boaters need to know how to read and interpret weather conditions. This skill helps them to avoid hazardous situations.
  • Communication Devices: Boaters learn how to use radios, signal flares and other devices in emergencies.

Make Sure You Have Properly Fitted Life Jackets

You should have properly fitted life jackets for everyone on board, especially children. In fact, children should always wear life jackets on boats, without exception.

Some people think they do not need a life jacket because they are strong swimmers. However, swimming ability does not matter when you have rough water or strong rip currents.

What Is the Proper Fit?

Life jackets should fit snugly but you should still feel comfortable. You need to have free movement of your shoulders and arms.

Proper Storage

When you are not using a life jacket, it should be stored away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can degrade the material and make life jackets less effective.

Inspecting Life Jackets

Before you go out on the water, look over each life jacket for any rips or tears. Make sure the straps work properly and the jacket still floats.

Educating Passengers on Using Life Jackets

Make sure everyone on board understands how to put on and secure their life jacket. It is best to do this before the trip begins.

Review the Weather Before Boating

You should always check the weather forecast before departing. You do not want to be surprised by weather conditions when you are already out on the water.

If you do not have much experience in the conditions that have been forecast, you may want to go boating another day.

Share Your Travel Plan With Someone Who Will Not Be There

You should share a detailed float plan with someone who is not coming on the trip. Tell them when you are leaving and returning, where you will be going and who will be going.

Review What To Do in an Emergency

Everyone who is on board should know what to do in a crisis. Make sure to brief passengers on some basic safety practices and tell them where emergency equipment is located.

Ensure Your Boat Is in Proper Operating Condition

It is critical to perform regular boat maintenance to ensure your boat will not break down or take on water. You also need to be sure your boat has all the necessary equipment for an emergency, such as:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kit
  • Life rings
  • Flares

Staying Safe When You Are Out on the Water

Boating is a leisure activity, so people often throw caution to the wind. However, negligent behavior can have devastating consequences. For example, you should never drink alcohol while operating a boat. Not only is it illegal, but it can also have an impact on your ability to operate the boat safely. Alcohol can impair your judgment and slow your reaction time.

Other safety tips include:

  • Maintaining awareness of traffic, including swimmers and floating debris
  • Following posted speed limits, especially in crowded places
  • Watching for buoys and other navigational aids
  • Avoid distracted boating, it could result in a collision with another vessel or running aground in shallow water
  • If a storm is on the way, play it safe and head back to shore

Injured in a Harrisburg Boating Accident? Call Schmidt Kramer

Boating accidents can result in serious, possibly life-threatening injuries. Those who experience a near-drowning incident could be left with permanent brain damage.

If you were injured on a boat and believe another party’s negligence is involved, we encourage you to contact us to learn if you may have legal options. While no lawsuit can change what happened, it may provide the compensation you need for medical care and other damages.

No upfront costs or fees. Free initial legal consultation. Call (717) 727-2550.