A Guide to Boat Dock Safety

A Guide to Boat Dock Safety

Living by the lake is a nonstop adventure for people who love experiencing the outdoors and hanging out by the water. As with any outdoor activity, however, there are many crucial safety tips to follow to ensure everyone has a safe and fun experience.

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Be Prepared With Essential Safety Equipment

1. Be Prepared With Essential Safety Equipment

Keeping safety equipment nearby at all times will help you feel prepared in the event of an emergency, although you will hopefully never have to use it. Ensure you have the following safety tools on hand, so you are prepared in worst-case scenarios:

  • Life jackets: Storing life vests near your dock and on boats can help you save someone who may be struggling to swim to shore.
  • First aid kits: Accidents happen, and when someone is injured, having easy access to a first aid kit can minimize the wound’s effects.
  • Life rings: Having life rings gives you an easy way to pull someone back to the dock even if they are injured and unable to swim.
  • Dock handrails: Installing handrails on your dock gives extra support to those who need it, especially when boarding or exiting a boat.
  • Fire extinguisher: Even though your dock is on the water, you must be ready for fires. Keep a fire extinguisher on your boat in case even a small fire breaks out to stop the fire from spreading and causing even more damage.
  • Ropes and tow lines: Keep new, durable ropes and tow lines easily accessible. Discard frayed ropes and lines, as these can be a safety risk. Good quality ropes and tow lines keep you, others and your boat safe both at the dock and on the water.
  • Flares: Flares are a signal you need help on the water, so keep some on or near your boat at all times. Know how to use them beforehand so you can successfully use one during an emergency if needed.
  • A horn: Bringing a horn on your boat can help make other boaters aware of your presence when leaving your dock, sailing the water or approaching your dock.
  • Lights: Navigating your dock without proper lighting can be dangerous. Falls, slip and trips can lead to injury and send you overboard. Be sure to install good lighting so you can see what’s in front of you on your dock and on your boat.

One of the most convenient and safest ways to store some of the above items is by using a dock box. A corner storage box offers spacious storage for your essential boating safety items while ensuring your dock stays clear of obstructions. Dock boxes like the ones from EZ Dock are durable and can help you stay prepared for emergencies for years to come.

Know How to Dock Properly

2. Know How to Dock Properly

Docking takes practice and can be difficult even for experienced skippers. There are several tips to follow in order to dock safely every time and reduce the risk of damage:

  1. Prepare the boat: Your first step is to prepare the boat for successful docking. This starts by making sure you bring the correct equipment on board with you before you set out, including your ropes and tow lines. Check that these items are easy to access on your boat when it’s time to dock. Also, ensure your boat and dock fenders are at the correct height to avoid unnecessary damage. Open any gates to improve your visibility as you approach your dock. 
  2. Check your surroundings: Familiarizing yourself with your area and immediate surroundings at all times is essential for safe boating practices, including docking. Understanding these factors will help you approach the dock correctly and safely. Look out for other boats and ensure you have the right amount of space to make the necessary maneuvers to dock your boat.
  3. Approach slowly: Do not move toward the dock faster than you want to hit it. This process takes time but will minimize the risk of damaging your boat or dock. 
  4. Have a strategy: Think about how you want to approach your dock in advance and communicate your plan with any passengers.
  5. Protect passengers: Let everyone know they should stay on the boat with their arms and legs in until you complete the docking maneuver. 
  6. Go against the current: Keep the current against you when possible to naturally reduce your speed. 
  7. Tie your boat to the dock: The last step of the docking process is securing your boat to your dock. Affix your stern and bow lines to the pier and use the correct knot to give you a secure hold. Be sure to keep your boat in neutral during this process in case you need to make a sudden adjustment when docking.

What Is the Most Important Factor to Consider When Docking a Boat?

The most important factor to consider when docking a boat is the weather, namely the wind and current. Strong winds and currents will apply force to your boat, moving it in the water. This can complicate your dock approach and will require the proper response to dock successfully.

Read our Guide to Docking a Boat if you’d like a more in-depth look at the docking process in various conditions.

3. Follow Standard Safety Procedures

Along with proper equipment and knowledge, everyone using your dock should follow standard safety requirements: 

  • Walk only: Going out onto the water can be an exciting time for friends and family, but everyone, especially children, must maintain their composure when using the dock and approaching the boat. Enforcing a strict no-running policy on the dock will keep your friends and family safe from slipping or falling. 
  • Clean and repair the dock: Keep your dock free from clutter and debris by removing tripping hazards. Put items back into your dock box after using them. Additionally, use a gentle cleaner and hose to rinse off any dirt or debris to keep your dock as clean and beautiful as possible. If your dock has notable signs of wear, repair it as soon as possible to ensure safety.
  • Use caution with electricity: Water and electricity do not mix, so following proper safety procedures is a must. If you have dock lights or other equipment using electricity, install bonding jumpers to keep your dock grounded in case of an electrical surge.
  • Communicate your plans: Water activities are fun, but they can be dangerous. It’s important to let your friends and family know when you’re planning on using your boat when you’re out on the water. Let others know where you will be so they can find you in case of an emergency.
  • Keep boat safety equipment ready for use: You already know about the importance of having the right safety equipment. Keep all boat safety equipment ready for use every time you use your boat. Remember that a dock box can provide an easy, convenient way to store your safety equipment so it’s always ready for use.
  • Use good lighting: The last thing you want to experience is a slip or a trip that causes an injury or sends you hurtling into the water for an unplanned swim. Install good lighting for your boat and dock to avoid these types of accidents.
  • Get insurance: Accidents happen. Get yourself a dock insurance policy to help cover any accidents that may occur.
  • Install barriers and gates: If young children or pets will be around your dock, it is a good idea to install barriers and gates to keep them away from the dock when not in use.
  • Use best docking practices: Always follow the best docking practices from the previous section to keep you, your guests, your boat and your dock safe.

Top Benefits of Practicing Dock Safety

Top Benefits of Practicing Dock Safety

Following dock safety practices is key to getting the most enjoyment out of your property. Here are four of the main benefits of practicing dock safety:

  • More time on the water: Injuries are a sure way to disrupt your plans for a day on the water. By practicing dock safety, you reduce the risk of trips and slips and can more quickly — and safely — get out on the water.
  • Less wear and tear: Good dock safety practices will reduce the wear and tear on your boat and your dock. This leads to less money spent on repairs and maintenance, so you have more to put toward your hobbies and property upgrades.
  • Reduced risk of injuries: Dock safety practices ensure you and the ones you care about stay safe every time you use your dock and boat for a day of fun on the water. Having a full crew out on the boat can be a lot to manage, so following safety measures from the start is the best way to keep everyone protected as much as possible.
  • Reduced risk of theft and vandalism: If you’re leaving things out on your deck, you’re raising the chances that someone will steal or vandalize them. Keep your dock clean and secure your items to keep them safe and ready for the next use.

Choose EZ Dock Products to Make the Most of Your Lake

Choose EZ Dock Products to Make the Most of Your Lake

EZ Dock can help you enjoy your lakeside living experience to the fullest by providing lasting, low-maintenance boat port products that can keep you safe while offering functional solutions. We have an extensive selection online that you can browse to find the products you need for your lakeside property. 

Spend more time enjoying the lake and less time working on maintenance with EZ Dock products. Fill out our contact form today to speak with an expert.