Sensible Boating Means Planning for Emergencies

July 14, 2004

LITTLE ROCK - It can’t happen to you. You are experienced in a boat. You have the proper equipment, you’re wearing a life jacket, and you know the water you’re traveling.
But emergencies do arise. Things can happen on the water and through no fault of yours. The boat’s motor can quit unexpectedly. A storm can come up quickly.

Be prepared for emergencies when boating this summer.A good habit to form is to leave a boating plan with someone on shore, said Bob Cushing, boating education coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

“It just makes common sense to tell someone at home or at a boat dock where you are going, when you expect to return and your cell phone number. By all means, take a cell phone along if you have one,” Cushing said.

Fliers are required to file flight plans. Boaters can do the same, though it’s not required and without as much detail as needed from aviators.

The basics:

Put it in writing. It’s more reliable than word of mouth.

Leave a note with a person at home or a neighbor of relative if all the family is going.

Tell where you are going and what ramp you will launch from.

Leave a description of your vehicle with license number and the boat with its registration number.

List the people who will be with you.

Give your cell phone number. Sometimes in remote areas on the water, cell phones don’t function. Your chances these days, however, are good that they will work - to call and to receive calls.

Tell when you expect to return.

If you are on a canoe or kayak float outing, give the information for the starting point and ending point and for shuttle vehicles.

By leaving a boating plan, your chances improve greatly of someone being alerted if you don’t return when you expected to. With a plan, a search can begin soon after the return time passes. Without it, it could be overnight or longer before someone goes looking for you and your stranded boat.

Another suggestion from Cushing is to take a boating education class. It’s free, and the Game and Fish Commission and volunteer instructors conduct classes all over the state. You may know how to handle that boat efficiently and safely, but there is always something more to learn.

Boating education is mandatory for anyone born after 1985 in order for them to operate any type of motorboat or sailboat on Arkansas waters. Check the AGFC web site, www.agfc.com, for boating education information.

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