How to ensure a safe boating season!


boating safety graphic

 

As we head into prime boating season, The National Safe Boating Council’s Wear It campaign offers some important safety messages. Check out these stats from the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, the most recent report. The stats are a compilation of data from 50 states.

  • 83% of boat drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket
  • 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had no boating safety instruction
  • 15% of the deaths involved alcohol as the leading factor
  • Two-thirds of drowning victims are good swimmers
  • 4,463 boating accidents occurred, up 7.3% from the prior year
  • 701 deaths occurred, up 12% from prior year
  • 2,903 injuries, 11.1% increase
  • $49 million dollars of property damage

One of the primary safety messages is Wear It: no matter what type of boating activity to you are involved in, wear a safety belt yourself and require all your passengers to wear one, too. It’s the single most effective safety measure you can take. For more on boating safety, download a copy of Boating Safety Tips from the National Safe Boating Council, which we’re reprinted below. We added some links to the tips, as well.

1. Wear a life jacket. No matter what activity you have planned on the water, always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket. Life jacket types, fit and care.

2. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for your water activity and fits properly. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems. How to choose the right life jacket (PDF).

3. Know state boating laws. Rules and laws can differ from state to state and violations can result in ticketing, fines or jail time. State Boating Laws.

4. Take a boating safety course. Learn valuable tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course. Many courses are online, and will save you money on your boat insurance. US Coast Guard – Boating Safety Courses.

5. Make sure your boat is prepared. There are many items that need to be check ed and rechecked on any boat. Schedule a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons before you hit the water. Every Vessel Safety Check is conducted 100 percent free of charge. U.S. Coast Guard’s Vessel Checks.

6. Be sure to know your boat’s capacity. If you have too much on your boat, the boat may become unstable and capsize.

7. Check the weather, including the water temperature. Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out, and keep a regular check for changing conditions. National Weather Service Marine Forecast.

8. Dress properly. Always dress for the weather, wearing layers if cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.

9. Always file a float plan. File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the trip, boat, persons, towing or trailer vehicle, communication equipment and emergency contacts. Find out more and get resources at the Coast Guard’s Float Plan Central.

10. Always follow navigation rules. Know the “Rules of the Road” such as operator’s responsibility, maintaining a proper lookout, safe speed, crossing, meeting head-on and overtaking situations. Know what’s going on around you at all times, and always travel at safe speeds for the environment. Find out more about navigation rules at Boat on Course from the National Safe Boating Council.

11. Don’t drink while you boat. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths in 2016. Find out more at Operation Dry Water from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

12. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it. Be sure to install
and maintain a working CO detector, never block exhaust outlets, and always dock, beach or anchor at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine. Learn more at Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Your Boat from the CDC.

13. Keep in touch. Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios and personal locator beacons (PLB). Cell phones are not reliable in an emergency situation.

More boating safety resources

 

 

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, May 5, 2018


wildfire preparation day graphic

In many parts of the US, wildfires are a constant threat. Wildfires destroy homes and property, injure and kill people and animals, and disrupt lives. We New Englanders tend to think of wildfires as only happening in the west, but that is not true. While less frequent and less damaging, there are indeed wildfires in New England. There are still some old-timers who remember a devastating Maine fire 70 years ago that destroyed towns and burned about a quarter of a million acres. People literally ran into the ocean to escape the flames.  New England’s severe drought a few year’s ago was a prime condition for wildfires.

May 5, the first Saturday in May, is Wildfire Community Preparation Day. Wherever you live, it’s a great opportunity to pitch in and help your community prepare for wildfires and a good reminder to look over your family’s own fire-preparedness plan.

So get the word out May 5: being properly prepared for wildfires is your best defense.

Preparation against wildfires is a matter of taking a few simple steps:

  • Get the most out of your smartphone. Get community weather alerts. Install the FEMA app or sign up for the Emergency Alert System.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Radio also provides emergency alerts.
  • Know your evacuation route, and have a plan B. And even a plan C. You don’t always know which exit will be passable. Make plans for your pets and livestock, too.Have your bug-out bag packed. Keep a number of N95 respirator masks handy. These sub-$20 face masks will alleviate the threat from inhaled ash, grit, and other particulates.
  • Store your important documents in a fire-proof safe, and have password-protected back-ups of your data.
  • Make sure the hose will reach. You want to be able to soak every inch of your property with it.
  • Build with fire-resistant materials. Know the properties of the materials you’re using to build, renovate, and repair your home and outbuildings.
  • Make a firebreak. Keep flammable material such as leaves, firewood, and debris at least thirty feet away from your home.
  • Keep your insurance coverage up to date. If you’ve made renovations or additions to your property, let your insurance agent know. Go over all your insurance coverages with your agent once a year to make sure they’re up-to-date and suites to your current needs.

Fire safety works best when everyone collaborates. Get together with your friends and family on May 5 and make your community safer from wildfires.

Trucks & teens: Tips for safely sharing the road


trucks on the highway

Learning the rules of the road is essential for all new drivers, both teens getting their first driver’s license and adults venturing behind the wheel for first time. More and more Americans are delaying getting their licenses, and in an age that promises self-driving cars in the near future, that makes sense. But right now driving is still an important part of our lives, and safe driving is a rewarding skill that results in fewer accidents and injuries, lower insurance premiums, and lower public safety costs.

One of the scariest things that new drivers face on the roads are 18-wheelers. Big trucks are, well, big. And powerful. And they aren’t particularly nimble. New drivers tend to take them for granted or to become distracted by them. Both mistakes can have tragic outcomes. Knowing the rules and knowing what to look for around big trucks is an important part of road safety.

Scott Felthousen, a professional truck driver with more than a decade of driving under his belt, has put together a useful guide to safe driving around semis. While his tips are aimed at keeping teen drivers safe, the advice he dispenses is applicable to everyone.

In short, he advises:

  • Be aware of blind spots. Don’t assume the truck driver is regularly checking her mirrors.
  • Don’t linger. The safest place to be is as far from the truck as reasonable. If traffic allows, slow down or speed up to avoid driving in the trucker’s blind spot right next to the trailer.
  • Before passing a semi, check your rear-view mirror. Can you see both of the truck’s headlights in the center of your mirror? When you see those there, that’s the minimum distance you need to safely move ahead.
  • Give 18-wheelers the space they need. When encountering a big truck at an intersection, remember that truck needs a whole bunch of space to safely turn. A big rig turning onto a two-lane street is always going to need more space than the lane can accommodate.

Thinking ahead and being aware of your surroundings is a key part of safe driving for everyone,not just new drivers. Recognizing situations before they become dangerous and taking the right steps to prevent them from happening is a learned skill that new drivers should start practicing from the moment they grip the steering wheel.

Children’s car safety seats: Are you using yours correctly?


baby in a car seat

Are you using your child’s car safety seat properly? A 2016 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests you might not be. More than half the car seats looked at in the report were improperly installed or incorrectly used. Similar studies conducted independently showed even higher levels of misuse. While some of the errors found in these studies were small, others were large enough to negate the safety of the seat entirely. As Miriam Manary, senior engineering research associate at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, told the New York Times:

“… somewhere around 35 percent of it is gross misuse where they’re not going to get any protection from that system — things like not securing the child restraint into the vehicle or not harnessing the child in the child restraint system.”

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death in children, and forty percent of children killed in automobile crashes were unrestrained. Correctly using a child’s car safety seat can reduce the risk of fatal injury by more than half. The child safety group Safe Kids Worldwide offers free children’s car seat checks. Look at their website to see if they’re sponsoring an event near you. If there are no safety checks nearby, Safe Kids Worldwide also offers a list of technicians qualified to check that your children’s car safety seat is properly installed and that you’re using it right.

Here are some pointers to help make sure your children are getting the safest ride out of their car seats:

Don’t forget the top tether. All children’s car seats have at least three anchor straps. Some have five. It’s easy to forget that important top strap.

Check the expiration date. Like all good things, children’s car seats won’t last forever. Wear and tear, exposure to heat and UV light — all these things take their toll. Most convertible car seats are good for 10 years; most infant seats for 6. Check your warranty card to see when yours expires.

Been in a wreck? Throw it out. A damaged car seat is an ineffective car seat. If you’ve been in a serious accident while your child’s car seat was in the car with you, maybe toss it and get a new one.

And finally, some good news: more expensive doesn’t always mean better. All children’s car safety seats have to meet the same federal standards. They’re tested by the NHTSA to make sure that all models on the market conform to those guidelines. Some models may be more convenient, more versatile, better looking, or have a better cup holder – but they’re still providing the same baseline safety features.

So keep these tips in mind, do your homework, and before you take a spin, strap ‘em in!

Your Super Bowl pre-game tool kit


Super Bowl party ingredients: snacks, beer, a football and a remote

Another Super Bowl Sunday for the Patriots! Go New England! We’ve gathered a grab bag of fun and interesting related items from around the web to get you in the spirit.

The Philadelphia police are hard at work greasing the street poles to prevent Eagles fans from any wild post-game pole-climbing activities. Sports Illustrated says they started with Crisco but are now using gear oil. But their precautions are likely in vain if we can believe the apes. In an annual tradition, Utah’s Hogle Zoo primates Tuah and Arcara made their Super Bowl LII predictions for the winning team … and they chose the Patriots. But let’s check in with other experts in the animal kingdom. Teddy the Porcupine has a 5-1 record for being right in his prognostications. Check out who he favors this year.

This year, the Globe and Philly.com are partnering to bring you a series of Facebook Live reports from the Super Bowl. The schedule started yesterday and will continue through the weekend – you can watch them all on the Globe’s Facebook page. And if Twitter is your thing, here’s what’s happening on Twitter for Super Bowl 52.

To get you in the spirit, Masslive has a Belichick feature: “Whether it be his references to SnapFace, his dry humor or his less-than-enthusiastic responses to numerous questions from the media, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is often good for a number of memorable moments at the podium every season.” They offer a choice selection of Belichick’s best quotes, jokes and press conferences from this season.

How are you at Super Bowl trivia? take the test to find out. You might want to brush up on these 23 pieces of fascinating Super Bowl trivia before the game so that you can amaze your companions.

If you look forward to the Super Bowl ads but don’t like sacrificing your time to replenish snacks or drinks, you’re in luck – AdAge brings you All the 2018 Super Bowl Ads Released So Far.

Many people think that the Super Bowl is really for the dogs, and they’ll prove it by tuning in to Puppy Bowl XIII on Sunday. Not to be outdone by the canine, kittens are taking to the field in Kitten Bowl 5.

Plan your day – here’s the lineup:

  • Kitten Bowl at noon, ET
  • Puppy Bowl 3 PM, ET
  • Super Bowl 6 PM, ET

Super Bowl parties

Planning a Super Bowl party but haven’t set the menu yet? Here’s a how-to on building a Super Bowl snack stadium, and here are 126 Amazing Super Bowl Party Foods That Are Guaranteed To Score.

But if you are hosting a party, we issue a reminder to look after guest safety to avoid any host liability. The Insurance Information Institute explains:

Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

It’s a little late for this Super Bowl, but if you are a homeowner who likes to host parties, you might want to talk to your independent insurance agent about umbrella liability insurance, which increases your protection.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds everyone that Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk, and offering sensible tips for party-goers and hosts.