Accidents can happen to everyone. No one's immune to them: even the most experienced boaters among us are facing various risks while on the water. As people age, they become more prone to endure injuries related to boating incidents. It's all thanks to the changes in health and overall mobility: seniors can't react to sudden hazards as quickly as possible. If you were to take a look at the official statistic, you'd see that seniors aged 70+ are more than present in the boating trauma section. Unfortunately, one in five cases is a fatality. Therefore, if you're a senior who has a passion for boating (and great weather's approaching), here are the essential tips on senior boating safety. Stay tuned!
#1 Keep your life jacket on
Now, let's continue with some statistics: drowning is the cause of death in nearly 4/5 of boating incidents. Here's another "neat" fact: about 86% of these unfortunates didn't wear a life jacket. Even though we don't have that kind of information, those numbers are even worse when it comes to seniors. That being said, if you're in your golden years and you're going boating every now and then, make sure you're wearing a life jacket (approved by the US Coast Guard) each time you get on board. If you happen to fall, dry yourself off quickly with a nice linen towel.
#2 Night boating? Thanks but no
Okay, we know. It's not easy to skip the chance to see the coastline in a different setting. The night lights along the banks are pure boating poetry. However, if you're a senior, you might as well say "thanks, but no" to any kind of night-boating suggestion. Even though old age comes with many benefits, certain things might stop you from boating at night: reduced vision and mild confusion. The combination of these two traits can result in dangerous scenarios. Therefore, you should boat during the daytime and avoid getting on board once the sun sets.
#3 Make yourself comfortable
Seniors value comfiness as much as everyone else (or even more). That shouldn't surprise anyone. If you've spent your whole life "earning for a living,” you probably want your golden years to be as comfy as possible. Also, older backs are no strangers to stiffness or soreness. That's especially evident if you're sleeping on hard surfaces. If you plan to sleep aboard your trusty vehicle, don't hesitate to invest some money in top-quality cushions or a custom mattress for your berth. Additionally, you might want to think about upgrading the cushions inside your cockpit. Add a bit of lumber support where it's possible. Lastly, a comfy chair has no alternative: keep that in mind.
#4 Enroll yourself in a boating safety course
This one goes out to every boating enthusiast out there, not just our senior buddies. Before you head into another boating adventure, you'll need to ensure you know the rules and your responsibilities as a boater. There are courses cleverly designed to help you out in that field. You'll find some of them online. Some of these are even free of charge. For instance, the Boat US Foundation offers a totally free course. It is specifically made to "match" each US state individually. Each state has its own set of rules. If you've moved from Virginia to New Jersey, you already know this. If you haven't and you're planning to do so, let experts jump in. They'll gladly take you to one of NJ's many boating paradises.
#5 Communication is key
Many seniors have some trouble hearing. If you're one of them, you'll probably have some trouble hearing your mate on the foredeck, too. Therefore, it's better to utilize a hand-signal system or obtain walkie-talkies. Of course, you can always have someone at the helm. Someone who has better hearing to hear what's been said. Communication is key when you're trying to avoid or handle unfortunate boating scenarios.
#6 Never go alone (if possible)
You've probably read some news in the past few years of folks falling overboard while boating all by themselves. In those sad stories, there's no one present on the boat to continue the rescue operation, and the boat drifts in the opposite direction. In order to reduce the risk of this happening, seniors must boat in pairs. Before you head towards the dock, see if any of your friends, relatives, or neighbors want to tag along. Rare are those who can decline such an invitation, and you'll have a buddy to talk to and enjoy a lovely time on the water.
#7 Buy yourself the appropriate footwear (slip-free shoes)
Boating experts note that footwear is essential to staying safe while boating. Proper shoes need to help you avoid slipping and falling, as both easily lead to injuries when you're a senior. Therefore, people in their golden years should obtain a pair of top-quality marine shoes that come with soft rubber soles. These improve traction, thus reducing slips during wet conditions.
#8 Proper boat maintenance
Boating safety is always intertwined with how you care for your vessel. Improper maintenance is not good as it can lead to issues such as engine failure. Therefore, regular care and maintenance are crucial. For instance, before you store your boat, do some storage preparations to keep it in good condition. You can't store it outside during rainy weather, right? Right. Read your owner's manual carefully to see what's there to be done.
#9 Be very cautious while entering/exiting your trusty vessel
This isn't strictly one of the tips on senior boating safety since these propositions stand for both young and old. You'll need to be very cautious while you're entering or exiting your trusty vessel that's secured to the dock. As we know, boats are usually subject to pushing feet and rocking from other passing boats. Also, they can be quite slippery from dew and rain. In order to avoid injuries during your entrance or exit, we suggest that you pull the boat in tightly and be very careful where and how you step onto the vessel. There are far too many stories about people falling and ending up seriously injured, so... Yeah, be very cautious!
Final words on the subject
That's about it, dear readers. These were the tips on senior boating safety. By following all of these tips of advising your loved ones to do so, you’ll make sure no one gets injured during one of your (or your loved ones') fantastic boating adventures. Until next time!
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