The first ideas that come to mind when considering safe boating are usually lifejackets, safety equipment, and emergency situations. Responsible boating, however, is not only a question of preparing for immediate dangers—it also includes caring for the long term safety and usability of our water reserves. Here are our top seven tips for making your next boating trip safe, clean, and fun:
- Perform refueling and oil changes carefully. An unfortunate amount of environmental accidents occur when performing these necessary tasks. Fuel and oil pose a deadly threat to marine life, bottom sediment, and even birds/mammals living in the area. Always add fuel slowly, and use an absorbent rag to prevent dripping when removing the nozzle and/or oil filter. It is also important to avoid “topping off,” as filling the fuel tank to capacity greatly increases the likelihood of a spill—in fact; %90 capacity is a responsible cut off, as fuel tends to expand as it heats up.
- Keep your engine in good condition. Engine problems are another likely cause of fuel and oil leaks. Securing oil-absorbent pads under the bilge and engine can serve as a safeguard in case your engine does begin to leak. Should you ever experience an oil/fuel spill or leak, you are legally obligated to contact the United States Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802.
- Perform cleaning and maintenance off-shore whenever possible. This prevents waste and debris from ending up in the water.
- Stow it, don’t throw it! Even the most seemingly harmless objects can cause enormous problems for water quality and marine life. Avoid leaving anything in the water. This includes: garbage (organic or not,) food, cigarette butts, fishing lines, and (especially!) human waste and/or potentially hazardous materials such as old batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, etc.