The waterways have been particularly busy this season with boaters practicing social distancing aboard, and they will only be more crowded this Fourth of July weekend as families across the country leave the slip to officially kick off summer.
It is always important to exercise increased caution amidst the festivities, as drinking and failure to wear a life jacket are the two leading causes of boating fatalities. So leave your drink on the shore, wear your life vest, and be mindful of how your wake will impact swimmers, paddlers and other boaters. This year, boaters will have the added challenge of abiding by pandemic protocols while enjoying time aboard. Remember to maintain six feet of distance from anyone not in your household, especially at the boat launch, dock or fishing pier. A more comprehensive list of Fourth of July protocols for boaters is available here.
Boaters should also ensure that their vessels are in safe working order, so check your systems and safety equipment ahead of time. Be mindful of fire hazards, such as fireworks, and brief everyone on board about safety protocols. You should also file a float plan before you leave the slip. More ideas for keeping yourself and your passengers safe are available here.