Dock safety tips to keep you and your family safe
Boat docks are a source of enjoyment and entertainment for many waterfront property owners. However, as with any structure in and or around water, safety has to be a priority.
Being safe while on boat docks gives everyone peace of mind. Following safety tips decreases the risk of someone being injured or worse. With that in mind, here are ways you can keep your family, friends and anyone else who may be on your dock safe.
Injuries and accidents that can occur around boat docks
Certain types of unfortunate injuries and other accidents can and do happen when safety is not taken seriously around boat docks.
Some estimates claim that as many as 100 injuries occur per 100,000 registered boats. While not all of those incidents involve docks, it’s reasonable to assume at least some do.
Common incidents involving docks can include collisions and overboard incidents that happen on or near a dock. Not only are these incidents common, they are also two of the leading incidents contributing to boating fatalities.
To avoid that worst case scenario and other injuries, keep the following tips and pointers in mind to make sure your family and friends are safe while on or near your boat dock.
Keep the dock clean
Clean docks are safer docks. Cleaning your boat dock often is one of the easiest ways to make sure it is a safe environment for everyone.
Make sure you keep the dock clear of any debris or clutter. Also, clean up any dirt, mud, grime or algae buildup that create a very slippery surface. Don’t just clean the decking, either. Be sure you clean boat lifts, railings, benches and ladders on a regular basis, as well.
As far as cleaning methods go, you can use a pressure washer – carefully, especially with wood docks. You can also use white vinegar or baking soda as environmentally friendly options for cleaning up mildew and other troublesome stains that may appear on the dock surface.
Inspect and repair your dock often
Be sure that you set and stick to a schedule to inspect your boat dock often. This way, you can find potential safety issues that require repairs. Any sort of imperfection or repair should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent the issue from becoming more severe and even more of a safety concern.
Some imperfections to keep an eye out for on your boat dock include:
- Screws or nails that are sticking out of wood planks or dock accessories, such as ladders
- Signs that any wood boards or other wood surfaces may be rotting
- Loose planks that need to be better secured
- Sagging decking that needs to be replaced
- Loose lashing straps
These are just a handful of dock surfaces and parts to keep an eye on as often as possible. Once you notice any of the above issues, it’s best to repair or replace as needed to avoid injury or other accident.
Remember: Minor issues almost always wind up becoming major issues. It’s safer and less expensive to address issues with your boat dock when the issue is still only minor.
Maintain access to safety equipment
While we all hope to avoid emergencies, the truth of the matter is that they do indeed happen. This is also why preparation, such as having safety equipment at the ready, is key.
Whenever you are entertaining people on or using a boat dock to access watercraft, be sure to have life vests, first aid kids, life rings and other equipment nearby. It’s a good idea to have a lockable container installed either on your dock or very close by that is large enough to hold each of these items.
Use caution around electricity
As we all know, electricity and water do not mix. As such, you should always have any electrical components on your boat dock installed – and repaired as necessary – by a professional electrician.
Be sure that you follow the following advice for boat dock electrical safety:
- Install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on any electrical receptacle
- Test the GFCI to ensure it’s working properly
- Have bonding jumpers install so metal parts are grounded
- Hire a qualified professional or electrician to inspect electrical components on a regular basis
Follow proper docking procedures
As many dock incidents involve a boat, it’s important to keep in mind and follow best practices for docking boats. Ensure that everyone operating a boat is familiar with how to dock a boat the right way.
When docking a boat, always make your approach in a slow and steady manner. Have a plan for how you are going to dock ahead of time so that you are not trying to “make it work” on the fly.
While you are docking, have everyone remain seated. This will decrease the chance of falling or other injuries occurring should the boat bump the dock in a rough manner, which can happen.
Keep your insurance updated
When accidents happen, it’s good to know that money is not going to be an issue. While the wellbeing of those involved in any sort of accident should be the primary focus, it is still important to know how anything that happens on your boat dock may be covered by insurance.
Some homeowners insurance policies may cover incidents that happen on a dock, while others will not. If you are not sure, then we recommend contacting your agent or a representative from your insurance provider to find out.
Let a pro help with your dock build or repairs
Not sure how to handle a specific repair or want to make sure your new dock is built with safety in mind? Reach out to us at VW Docks, where we have experience building a wide variety of both residential and commercial boat docks.
VW Docks isa leading builder of sectional, floating and other docks. No matter the boat dock you’re dreaming up, we’re capable of taking on the challenge and designing the dock of your dreams.
In fact, we welcome the challenge. Request a quote\ today!
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