Stay safe while enjoying your boat dock with these safety tips

Stay safe while enjoying your boat dock with these safety tips

Boat docks are one of the focal points of any lakefront or riverside home. They are often used not only for docking boats, jet skis and other watercraft, but as gathering points for families looking for a little outdoor recreation time.

However, as with anything near water, boat dock safety needs to be a priority for anybody who uses them. Boating injuries are not uncommon. Unfortunately, docks can sometimes be involved.

Be sure to have fun while enjoying fun activities around but docks, but follow these tips and advice for staying safe around docks.

Types of injuries and accidents that occur on or around boat docks

Injuries involving boats are far too common. In fact, it is estimated that there are about 100 injury incidents per 100,000 registered boats.

But when people think of boating injuries, they normally think of something happening while the boat is out on the water. While a lot of these injuries are not severe, and can often be cases of wounded pride more than anything else, they are still reminders to take boating safety seriously.

This is definitely true whenever you find yourself on or near boat docks, too. In fact, many boating accidents occur near boat docks, such as collisions and overboard incidents. These are actually two of the most common causes of boating fatalities.

BoatUS looked at data for 2009 to 2013 and found that docking itself was responsible for about 5% of boating accidents that led to injuries.

So, be sure to review these safety tips before heading out on the water.

1. Clean the dock often.

One of the first things you can do – and do often – to keep yourself, your family and your friends who are using your boat dock safe is to keep it clean by tidying up and clearing any accumulated debris often.

Make sure you not only keep the boat dock itself clean, but also the area around any boat lifts, railings, benches and ladders. Having a dock that is free of clutter will reduce tripping or slipping hazards, and will also just look a lot better for guests.

We’ve put together a couple of blog posts that go into detail on how to clean a boat dock, including this post.

2. Always have safety equipment ready just in case.

Nobody plans on experiencing an emergency – except they still happen. That’s why preparation and planning for emergencies is critical to keeping your loved ones safe.

Just as you do with your boats, you should always have on hand life vests, first aid kits, life rings and any other necessary safety equipment readily available when you are around docks. Some companies even make convenient storage options for keeping these items on the docks themselves.

Hopefully, you don’t have to use this equipment. However, in the event of an emergency, it is much better to have them a few feet away rather than too far away when you need them most.

3. Are you covered by insurance?

You may have boat insurance, but what if an incident happens on your dock and not on your boat? Check your insurance policy or with your agent to see what is and what is not covered by your plan.

In some cases, your dock may be covered by your homeowners insurance policy if the dock is located on the property that you own as a primary residence. Specific policy details will vary depending on the provider, but most dock insurance policies will cover freeze damage, flood damage, wind damage and more.

Make this an annual habit as part of checking that your structure is up-to-date according to local boat dock code and regulations. It’s also a good idea to ask your insurance agent what all they might need from you in case an incident does occur.

4. Be extremely cautious around electricity.

Electricity and water absolutely do not mix. All property owners should make sure their boat docks are electrically safe at least once per year by taking few precautionary steps. These steps can prevent serious injury or death.

First, make sure a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is installed on every electrical receptacle. A GFCI acts as a circuit breaker that can close electrical current very quickly if there’s faulty wiring or equipment. You should also have the GFCI tested regularly.

Next, dock owners should also have bonding jumpers installed. This piece of equipment connects all metal pieces in a dock structure to a ground located on-shore. Keeping your dock grounded will activate the GFCI if there’s ever an electrical charge on the dock.

Finally, a licensed and experienced professional should always be hired to handle these installations. These aren’t really DIY projects, as electricity can be incredibly dangerous. You should also have a professional conduct regular inspections of all electrical safety equipment to make sure everything is in working order before you kick off another season of fun on the water.

5. Know how to dock safely.

Docking is not always at the top of the list of many boaters’ favorite tasks. It takes practice and can sometimes be a pretty humbling experience thanks to variables like wind, boat size and close proximity to other boats and structures.

However, docking a boat the right way will help your boat and your dock last longer – and prevent any needless repair costs from piling up. It can also help prevent dangerous collisions and people falling overboard, as we discussed earlier in this post.

So, whenever you are docking, remember to always approach docks slowly and steadily. Plan out how you want to dock so that you remove as much guesswork as possible in the moment. In addition, make sure everyone in the boat knows now is not the time for moving around or distracting the person docking. Remind them to keep away from possible pinch points between the dock and the boat.

Ready for a dock upgrade?

Are you looking for a new, custom-designed and professionally installed boat dock for your property? Look no further than VW Docks. We have many floating and sectional dock options, and are always up for a custom challenge.

Request a free quote today on your project!

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