In the blink of an eye, a leisurely boating excursion can turn dangerous, even deadly, due to one of many common boating accidents. Whether from a collision with another watercraft, a propeller-involved injury or being tossed around by rough waters or an unsafe driver, recreationalists should be prepared to respond safely and quickly to any accidents taking place while on the water.
Watch out for others. The best way to handle a boating accident is to prevent one in the first place. If you are on a crowded waterway, be mindful of other watercraft and swimmers, especially near the shore where people are often moving to and fro. Even if you are on a seemingly-deserted waterway, do not speed to fast or take corners sharply as unseen persons and dangers can be easily obscured by nearby vegetation and even the water itself.
Tell others where you're going. If you plan to be spending time in a remote area, make sure those close to you know where you will be boating and for how long in case you find yourself stranded and unable to return. A sudden impact with a log or other submerged obstacles can leave you incapacitated and without transport, and those who know where you are can contact authorities to begin to help find you.
Bring life vests. They may not be the boldest fashion statement, but a life vest is able to save you from drowning even if you are unconscious out or too tired to keep your head above water. Whenever you are on the water, you and those in your vessel should all be wearing life vests, even if you are not going that fast or feel you may be experienced swimmers. Life vests don't help you swim, they help you not drown, and sometimes that is a lot more difficult than it sounds. So keen your watercraft stocked for yourself and any number of guests you expect to bring along so you can all make it back safely.
Be first-aid ready. While a simple first-aid kid will not tackle the most traumatic of injuries, it can keep smaller ones from becoming much worse. If you are able to clean and bandage a burn or cut while in the field, you will help the injured party avoid additional exposure to pathogens and dangerous chemicals as you return to land and eventually seek advanced medical care. Simple first-aid kits can be found at large retailers and often come with detailed instructions on how to use the items inside.
Know CPR. It is not uncommon to find CPR classes offered regularly at local colleges and the courses are not long or expensive, but incredibly valuable if you encounter someone who had stopped breathing or whose heart is not longer pumping. Performing CPR immediately after someone has had a heart attack or has been drowning can increase their chances of survival exponentially, only be sure you know how to do it in the first place.
Continue to boat safely. Having a seriously injured person in tow does not allow you to violating safe boating regulations as you seek help. In fact, a fast-moving, quickly-turning watercraft may only exasperate whatever injuries a victim may have sustained before you reach land. Make sure you transport them off the water safely rather than rapidly, to keep them, yourself and others safe from further harm.