Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Boating Safety Tips


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The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife provides the following tips for safe outdoor boating:

Many look forward to spring and summer days to spend time on Maine’s waterways, from tranquil ponds and larger majestic lakes to meandering rivers and streams. The key to a fun day on the water, whether it’s on a motorboat, canoe, kayak, or wind-powered craft, is to be safe and prepared. Here are some reminders to ensure your safety and that of your passengers:

-Always wear a life jacket. If you think you’ll have time to put it on after you’ve been in the water, think again.
-Keep vigilant and be aware of others on the water.
-Always drive your boat at a speed that is safe and reasonable for your surroundings.
-Never drink and drive!
-Check the weather before leaving the shore and carefully observe the weather changes.
-Beware of wildlife.
– Familiarize yourself with the body of water. Look at a map for depths and potential dangers. Lake associations, Maine guides, and local wardens can be a great resource.
-Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and wear a hat and sunscreen to avoid overexposure to the sun.
-Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices: State law requires everyone on board to have a lifejacket in good condition and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. In addition, boats over 16 feet must have a disposable PFD. The Maine Warden Service recommends that everyone wear their lifejacket when out on the water.

-If your boat has closed compartments or a false floor, you must bring a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher. Make sure it’s loaded and accessible.
-Always test your boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and take extra batteries.
-Keep emergency supplies on board in a floating pouch with maps, flares and a first aid kit.
-And make sure you have an anchor and can use it properly.
-Never drink and boat.
-Leave alcohol ashore and never consume drugs or alcohol before or while using the boat. The effects of alcohol are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sunlight, glare, wind, noise and vibration. Alcohol consumption is also dangerous for passengers. Drunk passengers can easily slip, fall overboard, or experience other life-threatening incidents.

Remember that boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal. Operating a pleasure craft with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more is against Maine law. Sailing under the influence applies to drugs, as well as alcohol. Even certain prescription drugs can make operating a pleasure craft unsafe. Check with your doctor for the effects of any medicine you are taking.

-Be careful with the weather.
-Whatever the season, keep a close watch on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind changes, lightning, and choppy water can all mean a storm is brewing.
-If bad weather is approaching, get out of the water early to avoid a long line in bad weather.
-Cold water temperatures, especially in spring and fall, increase the risk of hypothermia. Keep in mind that northern Maine can withstand winter for as long as it can, and it often feels like winter extends into spring.
– Make sure you take these steps before you start.
-Open all hatches and run the fan after refueling and before setting off. Sniff fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes do not start the engine.
-Make sure your registration is up to date and on board with you and that your boat bears the current year sticker.
-Do not overload your boat. Observe the stated weight capacity and make sure all equipment is working and the outlet is plugged in.

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