Own a boat? Thinking of seeing some cool fireworks from the water this year? If so, there are many tips for boaters watching fireworks displays to follow for having a safe and fun 4th of July this year.
As many boaters know, one of the best places to watch spectacular fireworks shows is from a boat! But these festive holiday event displays can cause crowded, disorienting and smoky conditions on the water. If you are thinking of taking your boat out to watch the fireworks on July 4, follow these 10 tips from the Sea Tow Foundation to make sure the holiday celebration is safe for everyone.
You can read more about boating and marina safety guidelines and rules in NYC on the NYC Parks Dept. website.
10 Tips for Boaters Watching Fireworks Displays
- Don’t Drink and Boat. Boating under the influence is the leading cause of all boating accidents, incidents and deaths. Always be or designate a Sober Skipper before leaving the dock. This individual will stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the fireworks are over. Take the Sober Skipper Pledge.
- Wear Your Life Jacket. Make sure everyone on board the boat is wearing a life jacket that fits them properly. Navigating at night in a crowd of other boats amid smoke from a fireworks display can be just as dangerous as boating in inclement weather or fog. Ensure the life jacket is worn over the top of any sweatshirts or jackets. If you need to borrow a life jacket, find a nationwide life jacket loaner station.
- Watch Your Weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the weight capacity plate on the transom or by the helm; you can also look up the passenger capacity in the builder’s manual.
- Navigate With Caution. Remember that visual navigation marks that you rely on during the day may be invisible at night. Chart your route to the on-water fireworks viewing zone in advance and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it. Also, ensure your running and anchor lights are working properly.
- Rules For Rafting-Up. If you are rafting up to other vessels to watch the fireworks, have fenders and lines ready as you approach the raft-up, and tell your passengers to keep their entire body inside the boat at all times.
- Leave It To The Experts. Tips for boaters watching fireworks displays include this one: Keep all store-bought fireworks at home and off the boat! Fireworks should only be lit on a flat and level surface; a boat is not stable enough because it will rock and move in the water. In addition, fiberglass is flammable, and the boat’s engine and fuel can pose a serious fire risk when sparks and open flames are present.
- Flares Are For Emergencies Only. Never fire emergency flares in place of fireworks. They are not intended for this use and often burn hotter and faster than fireworks. It is also unlawful to make a false call for help; you could face severe fines and/or jail time.
- Stifle The Sparks. Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water handy to put out any sparks that might drift over to your boat from the fireworks display.
- Sit Back and Relax. Don’t rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor.
- Listen Up! Obey U.S. Coast Guard-designated fireworks safety zones and follow their orders or the orders of other local marine authorities – they are only out there to protect you! Details concerning the nature of the fireworks event will be published in Local Notices to Mariners and via Broadcast Notice to Mariners over VHF-FM band radio.
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