Boat Safety Tips

Keep the fun on the water coming — whether it’s a fishing boat, a canoe, or a personal watercraft that “floats your boat.”

Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Crash statistics indicate boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.

Follow these basic safety tips and enjoy Wisconsin’s great lakes and rivers with family and friends.

Leave alcohol onshore.

  • Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol’s effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration.

Use and maintain the right safety equipment.

  • Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer. The DNR recommends that everyone wear their lifejackets while on the water.
  • Have a fire extinguisher.
  • Have operable boat lights – Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries.  Emergency supplies – Keep on board in a floating pouch: cell phone, maps, flares, and 1st aid kit.
  • Learn about some key equipment to keep you safe:

Paddle Board Safety Tips.

  • Wear a lifejacket! – More than 90% of boat fatalities related to drowning involve victims not wearing life jackets, you need one for your safety. You also need one because Wisconsin law, as well as U.S. Coast Guard law, treats paddleboards the same as kayaks and canoes. This means there must be a personal flotation device for each person on board. However, the best way to obey this law and to ensure your safety is to just wear the life jacket.
  • Carry a whistle
  • Be a competent swimmer
  • Know how to self-rescue
  • Know how to tow another board
  • Know the local regulations and navigation rules
  • Understand the elements and hazards – winds, tidal ranges, current, terrain
  • Know when to wear a leash
  • Be defensive – don’t go where you aren’t supposed to be and avoid other swimmers, boaters, paddleboards
  • Use proper blade angle to be the most efficient paddle boarder
  • And, take a safety course

Be weather wise.

  • Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line in inclement weather.

Take these steps before getting underway.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes, do not start the engine.
  • Check the boat landing for any local regulations that apply. If boating on the Great Lakes or Mississippi River, review the federal regulations for additional requirements.

Loading and unloading your boat.

  • Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat unstable and increase the risk of capsizing or swamping. Abide by the boats capacity plate which located near the boat operators position.
  • See why it’s important not to overload your boat:

Follow navigation and other rules on the water.

  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.
  • After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch.
  • Follow boat traffic rules.

Take special cold water precautions in spring.

Cold water temperatures reduce your margin for error on the water: if you fall in or your boat capsizes, you may have as little as two minutes before losing your ability to move your muscles and get back in the boat or seek help.

For more information on boat safety tips visit the Wisconsin DNR website at http://dnr.wi.gov/

Things to Know When Buying a New Vehicle

What do I need to consider when deciding which vehicle to buy?

Different vehicles cost more to insure; some of these things that go into insurance cost include vehicle performance, cost of vehicle, cost to repair, and theft potential. The color, although many believe otherwise, does not have an effect on your insurance premiums. To research different vehicles you can visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.

Do I need to contact my insurance agent before or after I purchase the vehicle?

If you currently do not have a vehicle insurance policy, then you will need to have that arranged before you can leave the lot with the vehicle. If you currently have a policy, you usually need to follow up with your agent within 10 days of the new purchase.

What information do I need to have before contacting my agent?

The vehicle’s year, make, model, VIN number, lienholder information (if there is a loan), the primary driver, and how you will be using the vehicle (an estimate of how many miles each day).

Are rates more important than coverage?

You want to keep the rates as cheap as possible, but you also need to consider the coverage that comes with those rates. You don’t want to have to pay more out of pocket just because your insurance doesn’t cover you if you are in an accident. Here are some trends in state regulation and insurance rates.

Are there any insurance discounts available?

Yes, the most common discount is the multi car discount that many insurance companies will give you for having more than one vehicle on the same policy. There can also be discounts available for being a long term customer, or having multiple policies with the same company.