A simple day of relaxation on the lake is a favorite diversion of Smith Mountain Lake residents and visitors alike. During the summer months, some folks make a habit of getting out on the water as often as they can. And it’s no surprise; the gorgeous lakeside vistas and temperate climate make an afternoon floating on Smith Mountain Lake a true pleasure.
Photo by Zsolt Fila
But whether you’re a lake veteran or a newly minted boater, you should always follow these basic principles of boating safety. Above all else, staying safe on the water is the most important mission of your outing.
In Virginia, new boaters are required to undergo a brief training course to ensure safe travels on the water. Any passengers who meet the age requirements for boat operation should participate in this course.
Brush Up on Your Swimming Skills
Although boaters should be wearing lifejackets at all times, proficient swimming skills are still important. Non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross offer swimming lessons at no cost. Use this tool to find classes offered by the Red Cross in your area.
Don’t Take a Booze Cruise
The likelihood of either causing or experiencing some form of boating accident is much greater when passengers on your vessel are consuming alcohol. The risk simply isn’t worth it. Leave the alcohol on shore, and continue the party when you get back.
Have a Skipper On-Board
The importance of designating a skipper cannot be understated. A skipper is an individual who is equipped to operate the boat in the same capacity as the captain or primary operator. If something happens to the primary operator of the vessel, it is imperative that there be someone on board who can bring the vessel back to shore safely.
Watch the Weather
Photo by Stefan Neuweger
Most recreational boaters find themselves on the water during the warmest months of the year. Despite seemingly mild weather, conditions can change during this season rather quickly. Be on the lookout for dark clouds, thunder, lightning, and sudden temperature fluctuation.
If you witness any of these warning signs, get back to shore as soon as possible. Don’t stay out just because you think the disturbance will blow over. The risk of being on the water during a storm is too great to take any chances.
Always Wear a Lifejacket
Photo by NSW Maritime
Most have heard this rule recited so many times that it should be ingrained permanently into their subconscious. Unfortunately, there are still numerous accidents every year where boaters perish for lack of a lifejacket.
Take the most basic and important safety step while you’re on the water, and wear a lifejacket at all times.
Stay alert, use common sense, and use these tips to stay safe during your trip on Smith Mountain Lake. In addition to putting your mind at ease and keeping your family safe, these safety tips will ensure the safety of other boaters and make Smith Mountain Lake a better place to float!