Boating Safety Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Boating Safety Tips During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by / Monday, 06 July 2020 / Published in Maritime Law, Tips
Woman sitting on front of large boat while man drives

It goes without saying that 2020 has been a very strange year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, countless people have been forced to change their plans and miss out on things that they normally count on as annual traditions, like summer vacations, 4th of July parties, and celebrations for other holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. But for many people, being able to take their boat out on the water is one way to still have some fun and enjoy a sense of normalcy this summer.

Even though Michigan’s stay-at-home order has been lifted and many businesses have resumed operations, it’s still extremely important that everyone take steps to prevent spreading the virus. Here are some ways you can stay safe while having fun on your boat this summer:

Say No to Guests

If you’re going to be out boating while we try to work through the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most important things boaters need to do is limit the passengers on your boat to people who are living in your household with you. Even though lots of people love being able to spend a day on the water with their friends, this year, it’s very important to put those types of plans on hold. We know that it isn’t always easy to say no to your closest friends, but limiting your passengers to people who live in your household is an important way to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Practice Social Distancing

Even though boating involves spending time outside, it’s still important to maintain good social distance with other boaters and anyone else you might come in contact with. Don’t raft up with or pull up close to other boats and leave plenty of space between yourself and others at boat ramps, docks, and refueling stations. Keep in mind that it might take a little longer than normal at access points to allow for social distancing as people get ready to get their boats in the water. Be sure to wash your hands after touching anything that other people may have touched.

Bring Your Own Food & Drinks

If you’re in the habit of stopping for food while you’re out, keep in mind that restaurants are operating on a limited basis right now. Capacity is limited, so if you plan to stop at a peak time for meals like lunch or dinner, you might have to wait a while. It’s also still best to avoid crowded, enclosed spaces in general so bringing your own food is a simple way to minimize the risk of coming in contact with the virus.

Follow Official Orders

The coronavirus pandemic brought us into an era where things can change very quickly. At the time of writing this post, recreational boating is being allowed in the state of Michigan as long as boaters adhere to social distancing. Hopefully, things will continue to move in a positive direction in Michigan, but if cases were to significantly spike again and a stay-at-home order is put back in place that prohibits recreational boating, the best thing you can do is follow the order. Staying at home on what would be a nice boating day can be very frustrating, but it’s not worth the risk of contracting the virus.

Follow All General Boating Safety Guidelines

Aside from any precautions specifically focused on preventing the spread of the virus, it’s also important to make sure you follow all other general boating safety measures. Make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone and that everybody uses them while on board. Check the weather conditions before heading out, let others know about your planned route and when you expect to be back, and avoid excessive speed. And of course, don’t drink if you’ll be the one operating the boat.

Boating accidents haven’t been cancelled because of the pandemic. It’s still very easy for one person’s negligence to have devastating consequences. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, one of the best things you can do is get in touch with a boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. Boating accidents are extremely traumatic and a lawyer will be able to help answer all of your questions and can help you understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we’ve helped many Michigan boating accident victims and are ready to help you. Contact us today to get started.


Image: iStock / jovan_epn