As boaters, we love spending every possible day of the season on the water. Certainly, one of the highlights of each summer season is our Independence Day holiday and the opportunity to watch the spectacular fireworks displays from the water. There is no more special family fun than celebrating America’s history and seeing an amazing show. It’s not just the thunderous booms and aerial displays, there’s also something remarkable about seeing it all in the reflections on the surface of the water. So as we prepare to enjoy this year’s celebration, let us offer some helpful hints to create the best memories on your boat safely as you venture out to partake in our most cherished summer event.

LEAVING THE DOCK

Prior to leaving the dock, there are several things we recommend that you check out:

Make sure that all of your running and anchor lights are in good working order. Undoubtedly, Water Patrol will be present at these events and this is not the time to assume everything is properly working. Check them out and make sure prior to departure.

Make sure that you have a working fire extinguisher on board, and one that is not in expiration.

Make sure that you have all the required safety gear (life preservers) for the number of passengers you will be entertaining, and make sure that if you are taking children that there are age appropriate life preservers for each.

As ‘Captain’, make sure that you understand the abilities of those on board. Can everyone swim? Are there elderly among your group? Etc.

Determine the ‘Designated Driver’. We all know the role alcohol use can play in accidents on and off the water. Plan your designated driver strategy and stick with it.

Also, consider if this is the time to include the family pet. Many pets are terrified by the loud noise of fireworks (mine is!) and it may not be best to put them through it—-even if they are part of the family!

AS YOU HEAD OUT

Boaters should always be highly cautious when navigating our lakes and rivers at night, and this is never more true than on this holiday when boat traffic is elevated. Statistics show that the incidence of boating accidents is higher on holidays because of the number of us who are out enjoying the water.

Lower your speed. This is just a good idea in general, but especially true when so many of us are on the water together.

Get to your spot early and minimize your wake, no one likes the late comer who zooms up just as everyone is settling in. Make sure you are in a safe position and if you drop anchor, make sure it is set. You don’t to find out you are adrift in a sea of other boats just as the show is beginning.

Stay aware of other boats around you and keep an eye out for swimmers. Even though it is probably best to discourage swimming, in some the urge can be too strong and you can only control the actions on your boat not others.

Maintain the proper lighting. We all know that fireworks are best viewed in complete darkness, but make sure that you are visible to others at all times.

Depart safely. Many accidents occur as everyone hurries to get back to the dock when the fireworks end. You’ll be amazed at how relaxed that trip is when you wait 30 minutes or so before heading back to the dock.

Now that you are armed with some good information on how to more safely enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks show, we sincerely hope you will do just that. Get your family and friends out on the water this year and help America celebrate a birthday. Do it safely—–we want your memories to be the happiest kind!