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4 tips for a fun and safe boating excursion

Any time you're out on the water, it's important to make safety your No. 1 priority (followed by fun and working on your tan). If you go swimming in the lake, for instance, it's important to judge the depth before diving in. Even if you're hanging poolside, it's important to stretch or you'll risk a pulled muscle. This commitment to safety is doubly vital for spending time on boats, which includes anything from a canoe to a personal watercraft. In 2014 alone, the U.S. Coast Guard said there were 4,064 accidents in the U.S., which included 2,678 injuries and 610 deaths.

"On any boating tip, always check the weather beforehand."

If you want to keep your adventures on the high sea safe, be sure to follow these four handy tips:

1. Watch the weather
Even a simple day trip on a local lake can turn hazardous thanks to a thunder or windstorm. Before you undock, be sure to check the local weather report and plan your trip accordingly. Or, if you have a smartphone handy, you can get alerts sent directly to you if  a storm pops up.

2. Create a float plan
If you're unfamiliar, Discover Boating said that a float plan is is like an emergency contact of sorts. The float plan can be a friend, family member or just someone at the lake or marina. This person should know the contact info for the "trip leader" and every passenger, the type of boat and its registration number, and where you're headed that day. if anything goes wrong, this person can check in or help set up a rescue operation.

3. Keep the boat well packed
And I'm not just talking about the right snacks and beverages. Instead, every boat or watercraft needs to contain a few key items. The most common are:

  • Life vests: One for everyone under the age of 16. Always make sure they fit properly, and they won't ride up on the person's head.
  • Flares or a flashlight: Don't forget to bring along extra batteries
  • Emergency supplies: That includes a first-aid kit, a map of the lake, river, etc., and a cell phone or walkie-talkie.
  • Water and food: At least enough to last a day or so in case of any lakeside accident or emergency.

4. Education is vital
Before you hop into any boat, regardless of the size, you may want to consider enrolling yourself and your family in water safety classes. These are a great way to learn the rules of boating etiquette, plus valuable skills like CPR and how to handle common accidents, like a malfunctioning motor or a capsized craft. Aside from the proper education, many experts explain that simple common sense is one of your best tools. That means not drinking while operating boats, sticking to parts of the lake  or river that are accessible and free of debris, and driving only while daylight is available (unless the boat's outfitted with lights, of course). These may seem obvious, but the rules are easy to forget when you're having a good time.

Bug bites, nasty sunburns, and bumps and bruises are bound to happen on most any boat trip. When you've docked, you should head to your local CareWell Urgent Care Center. With locations across the Eastern Seaboard, each CareWell facility is equipped to handle almost any accident or injury.

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