The Sea Tow Foundation has put together a helpful list of 5 safety tips for boating in the cooler days of fall:

1. Update charts:

Helpful landmarks you’ve relied on all summer to point out shallow sections may look different as the leaves change color and fall. You also may find yourself cruising home in the dark more often with earlier sunsets making those landmarks hard to spot. Keep in mind that local and private aids to navigation such as channel markers and buoys may be pulled as early as October in some areas. Make sure that your charts—electronic and paper – are up to date.

2. Check lights and flares:

Make sure that your boat’s navigation lights are in working order and your emergency flares are not past their expiration date. Carry a couple of waterproof flashlights to help you unload passengers and their gear at the dock or boat ramp after dark, and be sure to stock spare batteries. A flashlight also can be used in an emergency at night to signal for help.

3. Carry a VHF radio:

During the fall, the waterways are less crowded. While this can be peaceful, it also means that if you run into a problem, you might not see another boater. A VHF radio can be used to call for help even in spots where your cell phone has no signal. Use Sea Tow’s free Automated Radio Check (ARC) system to ensure your VHF is working properly. To find the ARC VHF channel in your area, CLICK HERE.

4. Dress in layers:

As the days get shorter, there can be rapid changes in air temperature from day to evening. Dress in layers that can be easily removed or added when the air warms up or grows chilly. And make sure that your life jacket can fit over your layers.

5. Wear a lifejacket:

As water temperatures start to drop, boaters who accidentally fall overboard run an increased risk of hypothermia. While children under 13 are required to wear a life jacket when the boat is under way, it’s a good idea for adults to wear them, too—especially at night. Purchase life jackets with lights attached so rescuers can find you in the water.

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