All Volunteer Yacht Club SAFE BOATING TIPS PAGE
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The AVYC main focus is the celebration of boating fun. We however cannot ignore the fact that every year far too many people are needlessly injured or killed on our nation's oceans, rivers and lakes. This page is provided to, hopefully, inform and educate those who visit with some important information about what they can do to help create a fun and safe boating experience for the whole family.

Boat Safety Links

This page is provided to our Members as Safety Guide Tips. It is not intended to be all-inclusive nor comprehensive enough to be your only source of safety rules. As a boat owner it is your responsibility to comply with your specific state regulations pertaining to boating safety. These regulations vary from state to state . To insure compliance contact your State Boating Law Administrator or local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit.

To help you in obtaining all the facts and regulations specific to your state we provide the following:



United States Power Squadrons
US Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety
National Safe Boating Council

Fueling your Boat.

If handled in too casual a manner, this procedure can be very dangerous. Please review the following fueling safety precautions:

Before Fueling

1. Stop all engines.

2. Shut off all electricity, open flames, and heat sources.

3. Check bilges for fuel vapors. (For boats with enclosed engine and / or fuel compartments).

4. Extinguish all smoking materials.

5. Close all fittings and openings that could allow fuel vapors to enter the boat's enclosed spaces.

6a. Remove all personnel from the boat except the person handling the fueling hose.

6b. Make sure the children keep their floatation gear on while transferring in and out of the boat.

During Fueling

1. Maintain nozzle contact with fill pipe.

2. Fuel filling nozzle must be attended at all times.

3. Wipe up fuel spills immediately.

4. Avoid overfilling.

After Fueling and Before Starting Engine

1. Inspect bilges for leakage or fuel odors. (For boats with enclosed engine and / or fuel compartments).

2. Ventilate until odors are removed

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Water-skier Tips

  1. Do not take unnecessary risks while water-skiing. Know your limitations. If you are new to skiing try each new skill one at a time. Become proficient and then move on to the next skill.

  2. The towline should be at least 75 feet long.

  3. Have an observer in the tow boat at all times. The boat driver cannot drive the boat and watch the skier at the same time.

  4. The driver should use a rear view mirror.

  5. Skier should wear a Coast Guard approved PFD designed for water-skiing. This also goes for the driver and observer too. Think about it. If you are injured staying afloat is kind of important. While it is not, as a rule a good idea, the driver and or the observer may need to get into the water to help you. Would you rather be helped by a buoyant friend or a heavier than water ex-friend?

  6. Never ski in rough water.

  7. Stay clear of congested areas. A crowded beach is not a good place to ski. Docks and bridges hurt when skiers hit them so it's a good idea to steer clear Mr. Driver!

  8. Do not ski at night. It's dumb and illegal.

  9. NO ALCOHOL, the skier, driver or observer. Save it for the party later in the day.

Be respectful of other boaters and fishermen. Keep the boat in open water and in designated water-skiing areas.

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Capsizing or Swamping Your Boat.

There is a subtle difference between capsizing and swamping a boat. Capsizing involves turning your boat over. Swamping involves filling your boat with water. Usually a capsized boat will result in a swamped boat.

The most common way boats swamp: Under power a boat running with it's bow up then quickly decelerates can cause the wake to overtakes the stern. The effects are compounded in a heavily loaded boat. To avoid this get in the habit of slowing down your boat gradually.

Most small boats will not sink when swamped or capsized. Stay calm and consider these tips:

  1. Take care of yourself first. You can't help your passengers until your situation is under control.

  2. Always stay with the boat unless their is a greater danger such as a dam intakes or waterfall. Be sure and keep everyone together.

  3. If you are in cold water you will need to consider the effects that hypothermia will have on you and your passengers. It's a good idea to get everyone as far out of the water as possible.

  4. Attract attention. Use anything you have to get attention. A bright article of clothing, everyone waving, air horns, whistle or bells. Make a lot of noise. Just make sure there is someone around to see or hear your signal. Otherwise, conserve your energy until you feel you have a chance to be noticed.

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Alcohol and Boating

Over 1,000 people die in boating accidents every year. Nine out of ten of them drown. About half those deaths involve alcohol. It's tough enough to stay alert in the heat and sun but adding alcohol to this exposure intensifies the effects. Sometimes just a couple of beers are too many. When you're drinking, statistically, you're much more likely to fall overboard. Alcohol also reduces your body's ability to protect against cold water. So within minutes you may not be able to call for help, or swim to safety. Actually, a drunken person whose head is immersed can be confused and swim down to death instead of up to safety.

Members, please do not drink alcohol while boating !!

Thanks, Captain Jim

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Fire Onboard

There is very little that can happen to a boat in the open water that is more distressful than a fire onboard. This is a prospect I hope and pray no member will ever have to face. But, if it does happen, being well prepared is a key to survival. First make sure you have a Coast Guard approved FULLY CHARGED fire extinguisher(s) for your type and size of boat.

  1. If a fire breaks out while you are underway, stop the boat immediately. Rushing air is fuel to a fire.

  2. If you have a radio, call for help.

  3. Turn off electrical power.

  4. Quickly assess the danger of the fire spreading or a danger of explosion. If you feel either is possible place your passengers in PFD's. Keep everyone together and instruct them to swim clear of the boat.

  5. If you feel there is time consider placing the fire downwind of the rest of the boat to slow the spread of the flames..

  6. If the fire is of material other than gas or oil such as wood or fabric, bail water on the fire.

  7. If the fire stems from loose material, the simplest course of action may be to toss the Item(s) overboard.

  8. If the fire stems from gas, oil or grease us your fire extinguisher. Because fire draws air in from the bottom to fuel itself aim the nozzle of the extinguisher at the base of the fire. Be aware that this type of fire has a tendency to re-flash so keep an eye on it and be ready to act.

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Using Your Fire Extinguisher

It is first important to note that not all fire extinguishers are created equally. The type and size as well as the minimum number needed on hand at all times depends on your specific situation. As usual we highly recommend that you consult with your State Boating Law Administrator or local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit for the proper safety equipment for your boat.

Even though extinguishers come in a number of shapes and sizes, they all operate in a similar manner. Here's an often used acronym to help you remember proper fire extinguisher use:

P. A .S. S.
Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep
Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher that keeps the handle locked in place and protects it from being accidentally discharged.

Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire while standing at a safe distance, approximately 6 to 8 feet away from the fire.

Squeeze the handle to discharge the extinguisher.

Sweep the nozzle back and forth at the base of the fire. After the fire appears to be out, watch it carefully since it may re-ignite!

There Are four basic ratings for extinguishers:
  • Class A Extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper. The numerical rating for this class of fire extinguisher refers to the amount of water the fire extinguisher holds and the amount of fire it will extinguish.
  • Class B Extinguishers should be used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as grease, gasoline, oil, etc. The numerical rating for this class of fire extinguisher states the approximate number of square feet of a flammable liquid fire that a non-expert person can expect to extinguish.
  • Class C Extinguishers are suitable for use on electrically energized fires. This class of fire extinguishers does not have a numerical rating. The presence of the letter “C” indicates that the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.
  • Class D Extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals and are often specific for the type of metal in question. There is no picture designator for Class D extinguishers. These extinguishers generally have no rating nor are they given a multi-purpose rating for use on other types of fires.

Many extinguishers available today can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with more than one designator, e.g. A-B, B-C, or A-B-C. Make sure that if you have a multi-purpose extinguisher it is properly labeled.

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Why Men Drown

Men hold the distinction of drowning in boat related incidents at a greater rate than women. Why? Well one reason could be that men tend to be alone in boats more often. Many drown by falling overboard. When a man is in a boat he usually stands up for one of two reasons. The first is to cast or retrieve a line during fishing. The other has to do with what is called " the call of nature". It has been reported in various boating publications that a good 50% of men who drown are pulled out of the water with their fly unzipped. I know, it sounds funny, but it is deadly serious.

Another consideration is that in cooler weather , men tend to wear heavy clothing while fishing. When submerged heavy clothing, if you panic, can quickly soak up water making it almost impossible to stay afloat. Those who are not good swimmers will immediately get into trouble by trying to call for help while under water. The following tips will help in the successful completion of a fishing trip regardless if any fish are caught.

  1. Never go fishing alone.

  2. Tell someone where you plan to fish and when you plan to return.

  3. Wear a Coast Guard approved PFD floating devise for fishing while in the boat.

  4. Know where you are at all times on the boat. Don't get so caught up in the fishing experience that you loose your place.

  5. If you find yourself in the water, stay calm. When submerged heavy clothing or waders can provide flotation. Bending the knees will trap air in waders, providing flotation. Air pockets in clothing can also help you stay afloat. Do not thrash about or try to remove clothing or footwear. Keep your knees bent, float on your back and paddle slowly to safety

  6. Do not drink alcohol while in the boat.

  7. Carry an empty jug onboard to be used " when nature calls". Besides being much safer it it also more considerate and polite.


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    This page is provided to our Members as "Safety Guide Tips". It is not intended to be all-inclusive nor comprehensive enough to be your only source of safety rules. As a boat owner it is your responsibility to comply with your specific state regulations pertaining to boating safety. These regulations vary from state to state . To insure compliance contact your BOATING LAW ADMINISTRATORS STATE DIRECTORY or your local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit.

Personal Flotation Devices

OK here's the real skinny on PFD's. People do not wear them! The Coast Guard recommends everyone in the boat wear a PFD while the boat is underway. RIGHT! The next time your out on the water look around including your own boat. Count the number of PFD's (other than skiers) . If you come up with a number larger than one you may consider it a remarkable day.

Since we have established that most boaters do not wear their PFD's while on their boats, we will say to you - you should. But, if you don't, at least do this.

  1. Make sure you have enough PFD's for everyone on the boat.

  2. Prior to casting off, have each person select a PFD and try it on and cinch the straps to fit.

  3. Have that person stow the PFD in an easily accessible place. Ask them to remember where they placed it. It's a good idea to test their memory on that location partially into the trip. Have a little drill. Most will find it interesting and fun.

  4. Never keep PFD's under lock and key while underway.

  5. Perform a periodic safety check of all PFD's. Look for torn or weak straps and fasteners, mold or mildew.

    Please consider the following. If you complete the above 5 points consistently you will be looked upon by all who boat with you as a conscientious, caring captain. You will be the recipient of respect. No kidding! You will also be leading by example. Other boaters will see you going through your regiment and may pick up the same habit. It simply looks (and is) very professional. Thanks,Captain Jim.

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What the American Red Cross says about hot weather....


Bullet Default Dress for the heat: Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or use an umbrella.

Bullet DefaultDrink Water: Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which dehydrate the body.

Bullet Default Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.

Bullet DefaultAvoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

Bullet Default Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Bullet DefaultStay indoors when possible.


Heat wave: More than 48 hours of high heat (90 F or higher) and high humidity (80% relative humidity) or higher are expected.

Heat index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 F.

Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or legs. It is generally thought that the loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes the cramps.

Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body is not cooled properly. Signals include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

Heat stroke: Also known as sunstroke, heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Signals include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness, rapid, weak pulse, and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high--sometimes as high as 105 F.


1. Cool the Body

2. Give Fluids

3. Minimize Shock

Heat cramps/heat exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him or her drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets.

Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation! Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, place them on each of the victim's wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin's pores and prevents heat lose.) Watch for signals of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

For more information or to enroll in a Red Cross first aid and CPR course, contact the local American Red Cross chapter in your community.

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Falling Overboard, First Avoid It!

FALLING OVERBOARD (Part One): People fall overboard, it happens and it is not rare. Never happened on your boat? If your answer is no then one of two things must be true. 1) You practice most of the rules to avoid people falling overboard or 2) you have been very lucky and it just hasn't happened...yet!

It is important to schedule regular drills on your recovery procedure for person(s) overboard. One quick word on "Drills". Make them just that ...a drill with everyone in Pfd's. You are not supposed to create a realistic situation and then see how everyone performs!

OK, lets concentrate on not falling overboard.

1. "One hand for the ship--one hand for yourself' In other words "Grab hold of something and don't let go unless you have grabbed something else!". Another good rule is to always try to maintain three points of contact at all times. Either two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot.

2. Avoid alcohol.

3.Do not sit on gunwales or seat backs.

4.Skippers, warn your passengers of all maneuvers. Surprised passengers, especially during turns and changes in speed, will become unstable quickly and vulnerable to falling.

5.Wear the right footwear and be aware of slippery or uneven surfaces.

6. Save the horse-play for your destination while anchored. Any skipper worth his or her salt would never tolerate horse-play while underway!

7. As always it is a good idea for everyone to wear Pfd's at all times, especially while underway..

Falling Overboard Cont., Self Rescue

FALLING OVERBOARD (Part Two):Who knows why he fell overboard? He may have been leaning against the gunwale and his feet slipped. He may have had too much to drink and a course change got him disoriented. Whatever the reason, there he floats and he's not the greatest swimmer in the world!

The action needed, at this point, will be determined on several factors:

1- What is the ability for the person to save himself? Is he injured or uninjured? Is he a good swimmer?

2- What type of weather are you in? What is the water's condition?

In this section we will cover "Self Rescue". It can be the simplest technique. You'll notice I said, "can be". You never want to take anything for granted. He may be the greatest swimmer and seem uninjured and in an instant be in big trouble!

Ok here it is by the numbers.

1- Stop the boat and throw a flotation devise. The rule is if it floats and it's nearby get it to him fast! A "PFD" at one point needs to be one of those items, and the sooner the better.

2- You will want to turn your boat and move in closer to your swimmer. Appoint a spotter to keep an eye on the swimmer. That person should now assume the role of a human arrow, continuously pointing at the person in the water during the recovery. 3-Approach the person in a slow deliberate manner. It's best to move slightly in windward.

4- When you are within reaching distance to the swimmer SHUT OFF THE MOTOR!

5- Assist the swimmer into the boat.

6- As soon as possible while the events are fresh in everyone's mind, conduct a debriefing. Try and determine the cause of the accident and review the recovery to see if anything can be learned.

Falling Overboard Cont.,Assisted Recover

Falling overboard continued...Last part of three.

According to the Executive Summary Boating Statistics compiles by the U.S. Department of Transportation United States Coast Guard, 82% of fatalities occurred on boats less than 26 feet in length and 71% of those victims drowned. I don't find that surprising, smaller boats rock and roll more. It does however offer a reason why I have spent the last three newsletters talking about "falls overboard". This is the last in the series. In our last issue we covered the self-recovery method. Definitely the easier of two recovery methods. This issue we will cover the important points involving assisted recovery. But first a word of caution...

The prospect of writing about a situation involving a possible non-responsive person in the water is daunting at best. There are too many variables involved; not the least of which is the possible immediate loss of life if proper action is not taken quickly. Each situation is different and your reaction will be dependant on "conditions", water, weather and the person in the water. As with all safety tips, you should not rely on a single source for all your safety information. You may visit our Boat Safety Page on our site for your state safety administration address and phone numbers. BOATING LAW ADMINISTRATORS STATE DIRECTORY

OK, this time the person is in the water and seems to be in real trouble. Your first response is the same as the self-rescue, get something that floats to the person. He or she may be able to help to some degree in the rescue. Second, resist going or sending anyone in the water after the person overboard. If someone does go into the water to help the person overboard, he or she MUST wear an approve PFD.

It is also important that you do not lose site of the person overboard. As in our last article, if there is one available, appoint a human arrow. That person should point continuously at the person overboard while you maneuver the boat for recovery. This is usually more important in the open ocean with larger waves than usually found on inland bodies of water, but a good policy in any event.

The best way to approach the person being recovered is to move the boat windward (towards to wind) moving past the person and position the boat so that it will float back towards the person overboard. Once you feel confident that the boat will drift back towards the person to be recovered SHUT OFF THE MOTOR and position yourself (in a PFD) to effect the recovery. Hopefully by this time the person in the water has a PFD on. That's important because it becomes a nice handle. Getting the person back into the boat can be a little difficult. The lowest part of the boat to the water is the stern. Slid the person along the boat to that position and grab the lowest portion of the PFD or under the arms and lift the person into the boat.

Stuck, Alone and Cold

There you sit, out of gas or maybe your engine just stopped running ("When was the last time I checked those sparkplugs?") The reason at this point is academic.... your stuck!

Looking around it seems you stayed out later than the rest of the boaters. No help is nearby. The reality of the situation sets in....You may be out there all night!

Question: Is there anyone who knows you are on the water? Does anyone know where you are boating?

So.. if you do not return by a certain time, will there be an alarm going off? Nautical Safety Books call it "Filing a Float Plan" Simply stated, tell a loved one or neighbor. Someone who will miss you if you are a few hours late. It is a good idea to write the information down. Besides recording when and where you plan to boat, include a description of your boat and registration number. It could make a difference between an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous night and being a little late getting home!

This page is provided to our Members as Safety Guide Tips. It is not intended to be all-inclusive nor comprehensive enough to be your only source of safety rules. As a boat owner it is your responsibility to comply with your specific state regulations pertaining to boating safety. These regulations vary from state to state . To insure compliance contact your State Boating Law Administrator or local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit.

To help you in obtaining all the facts and regulations specific to your state we provide the following:



AVYC encourages you to write or call for information!

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