Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs Office -
Prescription medications can bring on unwanted side effects to boaters on the water far from emergency personnel. “The marine environment exposes people to heat or cold, motion, wind, noise and other factors that can cause fatigue in anyone,” says Richard C. Lavy, M.D. The physical condition of everyone on board should be assessed before leaving the dock. Lack of shade and over exposure to the sun and heat along with ever changing sea conditions can bring on dehydration, dizziness and heat exhaustion. Drowsiness or confusion will impair the ability to operate a boat safely much like too much alcohol.
Recognize the signs of medical distress and know how to call for help. Depending on geographic area, use VHF marine channel 16 or call 911. Know before you go.
Remember this acronym – BOAT SAFE – it stands for -
- Bring plenty to eat and drink – avoid dehydration
- Operate the boat in a safe and responsible manner
- Always wear a life jacket
- Take a boating safety course
- Sun, wind and temperatures can be more of a factor than boaters think
- Annual courtesy vessel safe check
- File a float plan – leave it with someone who will take action if overdue
- Evaluate the readiness of operating crew and passengers – it is ok to not get underway when there is doubt