Posted by: Henness & Haight

Boating is a fun and relaxing activity that many people enjoy on weekends and vacations in places like Lake Mead and Lake Havasu. However, there are many things you should know about boating to ensure you have a safe time on the water.

These safety rules are recommended by our Las Vegas boat accident attorneys will help you enjoy your boating experience and ensure the well-being of your passengers and others sharing the water.

Life Jackets for All Boaters

Aquatic vessels must be equipped with at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device for every person onboard the vessel and any person the vessel is towing.

According to NRS §488.193, the personal floatation device must be:

  • Positioned in a location that makes it easily accessible
  • Ready to use in an emergency
  • Out of its original packaging
  • Not under lock and key

Any passenger under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket at all times while he or she is on the vessel. If a passenger or operator is over the age of 13, the passenger can wear a life jacket at his or her discretion.

Additionally, any vessel that is more than 16 feet but less than 26 feet in length must carry a type IV personal floatation device approved by the U.S. Coast Guard that is capable of being thrown.

The device can be a ring life buoy or buoyant cushion. The type IV personal floatation device must be readily accessible for use in an emergency and in a position to be thrown by the vessel’s operator or passenger.

Any vessel that is more than 26 feet in length must carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved type IV personal floatation device that is capable of being thrown and has no less than 30 feet of throwing line attached.

Also, every motorboat must have a fire extinguisher capable of extinguishing burning gasoline. The fire extinguisher must be a marine type that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. You must maintain the fire extinguisher so that is in usable condition and ready to use in case of an emergency.

Do Not Drink While Boating

Any person who operates an aquatic vessel is subject to the same drug and alcohol standards as motorists driving on the state’s roadways.

According to NRS § 488.410, it is illegal for anyone to operate an aquatic vessel under power or sail on any waters in the state of Nevada if he or she is under the influence of an intoxicating substance, has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent, or has a BAC within two hours of operating a vessel.

Alcohol consumption doubles the likelihood of being involved in a boating accident, and exposure to sun and wind can increase the effects of alcohol.

Our Nevada boat accident attorneys highly recommend that you refrain from consuming alcohol or any intoxicating substance while operating an aquatic vessel.

Swim Safely

It is essential that operators and passengers of aquatic vessels choose to swim in a safe and populated location to avoid drowning.

Most drownings occur when the current is strong and exhausts the swimmer. For this reason, you should always swim while wearing a life jacket or near your vessel with an observer on board who can toss you a personal floatation device in case of an emergency.

The current may also cause your vessel to drift away without your knowledge and make it difficult to access when you finish swimming. This is especially dangerous for weak or exhausted swimmers who lack the stamina for long-distance swims.

If you encounter high wind speeds while boating, you should constantly check to make sure your boat is near you. Swimmers should also have an onboard observer who is able to operate the vessel in case of an emergency.

To avoid the risk of drowning, only swim in shallow, designated areas that are set aside for swimming and similar recreational activities.

Make a Float Plan

A float plan is an emergency strategy in case you become lost or injured while boating. You should inform a family member or close friend of your float plan, as well as a member of the local marina.

Your float plan should include where you are going, how long you intend to be out on the water and any additional information, such as:

  • Name, address and phone number of the trip leader
  • Name and phone number of all passengers
  • The type of boat you will be using and its registration information
  • Trip itinerary
  • The type of communication equipment you will be using, such as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Know the Rules of the Water

You should know and fully understand the rules and regulations of each body of water you plan to access.

Lakes and rivers often have designated zones for boating that limit the speed your vessel is able to travel. There may also be certain areas that are only designated for nonmotorized vessels and prohibit boats with engines.

Before you embark on your boating trip, you should know the starting and finishing point of these boundaries to prevent zone violations.

U.S. Aids to Navigation System buoys and markers are used to safely guide vessel operators through hazardous or heavily used waterways. They also identify upcoming dangers, controlled areas and give directions and information operators can use to safely navigate.

Marinas might also set unexpected restrictions on certain zones based on the current weather. You should check with the marina beforehand to learn the waterway’s rules and regulations.

Take a Boater Safety Course

If you were born after 1983, you will need to pass the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s boating safety coursebefore you can operate a vessel with more than 15 horsepower in the state of Nevada.

Boater safety courses teach key boating skills, including:

  • Boating laws, rules and regulations
  • Watercraft operation
  • Responding to emergency situations

Although there is no minimum age requirement to take this course, a person operating a personal watercraft must be at least 14 years old.

Any person operating a vessel that is towing another person on water skis, a surfboard or any other device must be:

  • At least 16 years of age
  • At least 14 years of age and have a person on board who is at least 18 years of age that is able to supervise the operator

Vessel Safety Check List

If you own or frequently operate a boat or other aquatic vessel, you should perform routine safety and maintenance checks, which should include:

  • Inspecting each life jacket on the vessel
  • Checking the vessel’s fire extinguisher
  • Renewing your boat registration (all registrations expire on Dec. 31 of each year)
  • Charging the vessel’s batteries
  • Checking the vessel’s electronics and lights
  • Testing the vessel’s engine and components
  • Inspecting the vessel’s hull for cracks or damage
  • Tuning the vessel’s trailer
  • Checking the vessel’s ski and tow
  • Checking the vessel’s fuel lines
  • Replacing the vessel’s gas

You should perform this routine inspection before and after each boating session to maintain your vessel.

Contact Our Las Vegas Boat Accident Lawyers

Boating can be an enjoyable activity if you choose to follow these rules and stay safe while on Nevada’s waterways.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident, you should contact us for a free review of your claim. Our Las Vegas boat accident attorneys will determine if you are entitled to damages and the ability to pursue civil action against the at-fault party.

We provide all of our services on a contingency fee basis and will not charge you any upfront fees for our services. You only need to pay us if we recover damages for your claim.