Holiday boat parades
Holiday boat parades are a fun and memorable holiday tradition. Cities and towns across the country light up the skies in December with dazzling Christmas-themed, floating showstoppers. As such, nighttime boat outings in cooler winter months require special safety considerations.
Plan to stay safe in holiday boat parades by following these six safety tips:
- Suit up like Santa: Wear your life jacket. According to the 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics Report, drowning was the cause of death in 75% of fatal boating accidents. 86% of those drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. Boaters should all don appropriately sized, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Check your state law for mandates on life jacket usage and age requirements for children.
- Gear up. Make sure all required boating safety gear is ready, functional and accessible. While you may already have signaling devices in your gear bag, consider a small, waterproof clip-on strobe light. They’re available from most marine stores and can be attached to your life jacket. Always have a VHF radio on hand and know how to properly use it.
- Dress for success. Choose the right type of attire for local weather conditions. Be prepared in case conditions change. Consider high-tech fabrics to keep you toasty and dry. Remember, children lose body heat faster than adults. Bring extra layers of clothing in a waterproof dry bag. Take along towels and blankets, too.
- Always designate a sober skipper. When it comes to holiday cheer, boaters need to understand the dangers of drinking and driving. Navigating at night compounds these risks. If parade organizers allow drinking, every boat should designate a sober skipper who doesn’t imbibe while operating the craft. Caution your crew to avoid or minimize alcohol consumption. They need to keep their wits about them while underway, too.
- Learn the parade route in advance. Most boat parade organizers provide a map of the parade route. Review the dock area along with the route. If possible, run your boat through the course in daylight. This will help you spot any obstacles or challenges that may be harder to see with limited visibility.
- Charge your batteries. Holiday boat parades mean colorful lights, music and lots of potential drain on your batteries. Make sure you fully charge your boat batteries so they are capable of handling the extra power demand of any accessories. Consider using LED decorative lights. They use less electrical power. A longer-lasting lithium-ion battery that is separate from your engine starting battery could also help.
–Water Sports Foundation
Feel at home on the water
Learn to boat with confidence by taking the Boat Handling course online from America’s Boating Club.