Top 10 Most Important Boating Safety Tips

young man on a boat as part of a graphic for the ace recreational marine insurance offering

As the weather warms up, many of us head to lakes, rivers, or the ocean to fish, waterski, cruise, and relax onboard a boat, yacht, or other personal watercraft. With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the United States, it’s no wonder the waterways are a popular place to go. But, before you head out with friends and family, take note of a few important safety tips.

1. Choose the right life jackets and make sure everyone wears one.

In approximately 80% of fatal boating accidents the cause of death was drowning. Of those, 83% weren’t wearing a life jacket. Insist that your crew and guests all wear a life jacket that fits them well. This can help them stay afloat in rough waters, protect them against hypothermia, and in some cases, keep their head above water.

All boats must be equipped with at least one Type I (off-shore life jacket), Type II (near-shore buoyancy vest), Type III (floatation aid), or Type V (special use device) personal floatation device for each person on board. Boats that are 16 feet or longer must have an additional Type IV throwable device as well.

2. Assemble a boat safety kit.

Having the right tools when you need them can spell the difference between a problem and an emergency. That’s why you should prepare a boat safety kit with common items you might need if something goes wrong. Some items to include:

  • First Aid Kit – For treating minor wounds and injuries.
  • Bucket – For bailing out water that’s come over the side.
  • Flashlight – For seeing in the dark if you’re stuck out at night without power.
  • Fire extinguisher – For putting out fires.
  • VHF Radio – For calling for help.
  • Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) – For keeping people afloat if they’re stuck in the water.
  • Flares – For signaling your location in an emergency.
  • Duct Tape – For temporarily patching leaks.
  • Rope – For securing your craft or tying down loose objects in bad weather.
  • Whistle – For signaling your position or intention to other boats.

3. Never drink alcohol and go boating.

Alcohol use is a leading contributor to fatal boating accidents, causing approximately 15% of deaths each year. Stay sharp when you’re on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.

4. Take a boating safety course.

Only 13% of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter, or visit for details.

5. Act before a storm hits.

Storm and hurricane forecasts and warnings are issued by the National Hurricane Center. Boaters can get information from VHF marine radios, commercial radios, television stations, and newspapers. As a boater, you need to be aware of these types of advisories and take action before a storm hits. Warnings range from small craft advisories, with winds of 18 knots or less, up to hurricane warnings with winds of 74 miles per hour (64 knots) or greater.

6. Register for a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number and get a VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) connected to your GPS.

When in coastal and inshore waters, these preparations help take the search out of search and rescue. DSC allows the VHF radio to transfer information digitally, and to instantly send a digital distress alert, which includes your exact position, to the Coast Guard upon activation of the emergency button. Part of the alert is the MMSI number, which will identify your vessel automatically.

7. Drive at a safe speed and follow all boating and safety navigation rules.

Excessive speed and improper lookout are two of the top contributing factors to boating accidents. Make sure you understand the local rules and laws of the waterway and follow them closely. Take note of visibility, traffic density, and proximity to navigational hazards such as shoals, rocks, or floating objects.

8. Put down the cell phone.

One of the top five contributing factors to boating accidents is inattention. Just like distracted driving on our highways, talking, texting, and other use of cell phones while boating is a growing problem on the water. Don’t contribute to this problem. Keep your eyes on the water ahead and around you.

9. Use a carbon monoxide detector.

All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can sicken you in seconds and kill you in minutes. Remember, you can’t see, smell, or taste CO, so know the symptoms (they’re similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication).

10. Get a free vessel safety check.

Boats are complex machines and need regular maintenance to stay running smoothly and safely. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost, so let their certified vessel examiners check your boat’s equipment and provide you with safety information before you go out on the water. Check with your marina or yacht club to find one in your area.

Protect Yourself and Your Vessel

At Wallace, Welch & Willingham, we specialize in marine insurance. We offer flexible plans for almost every type of boat or personal watercraft. Contact us online or call us at 727-522-7777 to find out what you need to stay safe in rough waters.

Updated on May 8, 2023. Read the original article on

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NEW OSHA RULE: Electronic Submissions Now Mandatory for Certain Employers

OSHA RecordkeepingA new OSHA rule is requiring certain employers to start electronically submitting their recordkeeping forms on workplace illnesses and injuries to OSHA.

Currently, employers who are required by OSHA to complete the 301, 300 and 300A recordkeeping forms were only required to produce the forms when requested by OSHA as part of an inspection or investigation.  Some employers would receive a survey from the Bureau of Labor to answer questions regarding information on their 300 and 300A forms, but were never asked to submit the actual forms.

OSHA will require employers with 250 or more employees who are already required to complete the recordkeeping forms to submit the forms electronically. This information will then be posted on OSHA’s website.  In addition to large employers mentioned above, employers of certain industries will be required to submit the 300A form only.  Below is a link to OSHA’s website regarding the new rule.  The website gives a list of industries under 250 employees who will be required to submit their 300A forms along with FAQ’s.

Although the new rule goes into effect in August of 2016, data submissions will be phased in starting in January 2017.  In 2017, large employers of 250 employees or more, along with certain industries, must submit their 300A form to OSHA by July 1, 2017.  In 2018, large employers will be required to submit the 301, 300 and 300A forms by July 1, 2018 and selected industries will have the same deadline, but will only be required to submit the 300A form.  In 2019, the submission deadline will change from July 1st to March 2nd.  OSHA plans to provide a secure site to which employers can submit their forms.  Personally identifiable information will be removed from the data before being posted on the OSHA website.

The new rule does not change the current recordkeeping rule.  Employers already required to complete the form should continue to do so and keep them for the mandatory 5 years.

Please contact your W3 advisor with any questions regarding OSHA’s new rule and if you are in the list of industries required to submit.

Workplace Safety and The Human Factor

Workplace Safety and the Human Factor

Many things are needed to keep a workplace safe and your costs down. You can train employees, policies can be put in place, you can hold monthly safety meetings, but an often forgotten variable is what is being called the “human factor”. Human factors refer to environmental factors, job factors and characteristics that influence employee behavior at work and the affect that has on safety.

According to a study conducted by BLR and SafeStart, 80% of those surveyed said that their biggest injury challenges involve human errors. How are these employees getting injured? The top reasons include slips, trips, falls and not following procedures. Another interesting statistic from the same survey says that when asked how often workers take shortcuts, 55% said “occasionally.”

There are different types of human factors. General errors such as mistakes can be made when an employee genuinely forgets to follow a safety procedure. Mistakes are made when the employee believes that they are doing the right thing when they are not. Violations are intentional errors or mistakes that come from employees taking shortcuts or skipping steps to save time or from a general noncompliance. The human factor is just that, human error. Managing these errors is key to maintaining an effective safety program and keeping employees safe and healthy.

The best way to combat the human factor is through a strong safety program that includes employee engagement and hands-on training. A good safety management program includes a risk management assessment that takes your employee’s human nature into consideration when looking at risks in your workplace. Our team takes the time to help develop and manage a safety program and suggest improvements for keeping your program effective. Contact us for a review of your current safety program.

Download A Sample Safety Manual Today!

Night Driving Dangers

A little extra caution can go a long way while driving at night

Summer has ended, and while fall and winter have their own pleasures — including camp fires— longer nights mean increased danger on the roads.

You might think you drive just as well at night, but consider this: Even though nighttime driving accounts for just 23% of vehicle miles traveled, more than 50% of fatalities for vehicle occupants 16 and older occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the National Safety Commission (NSC).

Because we’re big advocates for safety at WWW, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at why night driving is more dangerous, and what you can do to decrease that danger.

What’s dangerous about night driving?

  1. Decreased vision. We won’t go into all the biological details, but different parts of the eye (such as iris, pupil and retina) work differently at night. Your peripheral vision is actually slightly improved, but it’s more difficult to focus on objects ahead of you. And traveling between well-lit areas and darker roads creates issues as well.
  2. Driving too fast for your headlights. Depending on vehicle speed and headlight setting, many people “over-drive” their headlights. That means, by the time they see something on the road, it’s too late to stop in time to avoid it.
  3. Impaired judgment. Whether due to drowsiness or the use of alcohol or drugs, it appears that drivers at night often don’t use good judgment. According to the NSC, 66% of fatalities at night involve vehicle occupants who weren’t wearing seat belts.

So what do you do?

Sometimes, there’s no way around driving at night. So here are some tips to help you make a safe trip — whether you’re just running to the store, or you’re headed across town.

  1. Make sure your vehicle’s lights are in good working condition. And not just headlights, but turn signals, taillights, etc.
  2. Avoid speeding. Leave a bigger cushion between you and other cars than you would during daylight hours. Leave yourself more time for the trip.
  3. Be more aware of your surroundings. You shouldn’t be using your phone, messing around with the radio or trying to find something on the floor while you’re on the road anyway — and distractions are even more deadly at night. 

Of course, if you’re not comfortable driving at night, the best thing is to avoid it altogether if possible. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a ride from a trusted safe driver or waiting for the sun to come out!

Contact Us!

 At Wallace Welch & Willingham we can work with you to make sure you’ve got the coverage you need, while at the same time using all possible credits and discounts to make that coverage affordable. Just give us a call at 727-522-7777. We want to help you meet your goals, and make sure what’s important to you is protected!

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

In recognition of Hurricane Awareness there will be a tax free day on certain sale items. The sale this years runs from May 31st to June 8th. Here are some of the items that will be on sale:

Selling for $10 or less:

  • Reusable ice (reusable ice packs)

Selling for $20 or less:Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

  • Any portable self-powered light source
  • Battery-powered flashlights
  • Battery-powered lanterns
  • Gas-powered lanterns (including propane, kerosene, lamp oil, or similar fuel)
  • Tiki-type torches
  • Candles

Selling for $25 or less:

  • Any gas or diesel fuel container (including LP gas and kerosene containers)

Selling for $30 or less:

  • Batteries, including rechargeable batteries and excluding automobile and boat batteries (listed sizes only)
  • AA-cell
  • C-cell
  • D-cell
  • 6-volt
  • 9-volt
  • Coolers (food-storage; nonelectrical)
  • Ice chests (food-storage; nonelectrical)
  • Self-contained first-aid kit (already tax-exempt

Selling for $50 or less:

  • Tarpaulins (tarps)
  • Visqueen, plastic sheeting, plastic drop cloths, and other flexible waterproof sheeting
  • Ground anchor systems
  • Tie-down kits
  • Bungee cords
  • Ratchet straps
  • Radios (self-powered or battery-powered)
  • Two-way radios (self-powered or battery- powered)
  • Weather band radios (self-powered or
  • battery-powered)

Selling for $750 or less:

Portable generators that will be used to provide light, communications, or to preserve food in the event of a power outage

Note: Eligible battery-powered or gas-powered light sources and portable self-powered radios qualify for the exemption even though they may have electrical cords.


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