Owning a home by the water is the dream of so many – and a dock is a homeowner’s gateway to enjoy that water. Yet, like most things, docks do come with potential hazards. By following this comprehensive list of safety tips, you can be sure that you and your family enjoy your dock in the safest way possible.
· Always ensure that the surface of your dock is free of debris that could cause slips and/or falls.
· Ensure all watercraft (including personal watercraft and boats) are docked and anchored properly before attempting to enter or exit the vehicles.
· Avoid crowding on the docks. If you have multiple people who will be (a) using the docks or (b) attempting to enter watercraft from the docks, do so in a safe manner by spreading individuals out to reduce the risk of “shuffling” or falling into the water.
· Any individual who can not swim well (including young children) should not be allowed on the dock without the same safety precautions taken as though they were in a boat. This includes a life vest.
· After a storm or large waves caused by heavy winds, always do a quick check to ensure your dock is in proper working order and has not been damaged.
· Keep safety equipment on or near your dock. This includes (most importantly) a water life-saving device.
· Only allow people to swim near the docks if they are (a) strong swimmers, and (b) there will be no boats or personal watercraft entering or exiting the area.
· When swimming, remember that all small child or adults who are not strong swimmers should wear a life vest while in or around the water. Do not ever swim alone, during storms, in waters where hazards are known to be beneath the water’s surface, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
· Do not operate boats or other watercraft if under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications with “heavy machinery” warnings.
· Do not allow any horseplay to take place on the docks. This includes running shoving, sliding, wrestling, and anything else that might result in someone falling into the water.
· Be aware of shifting tidal depths and know the averages around your docks. If water is too shallow, do not allow anyone to dive into the water off the dock – including cannonballs.
· If you have children and live on the water, it is highly recommended that children take professional swim lessons to help prevent the risk of accidental drowning.
· Many homeowners (especially those with children) find it helpful to take a basic lifeguard/water rescue course. This can give you great peace of mind, as you know that someone will be able to act appropriately in the event of an unforeseen accident.
· Ensure that anyone who uses your docks is aware of the rules and safety plans you have in place.
By following the safety tips listed above, you can make sure that you and your family enjoy your new dock without avoidable incidents. Keep yourself, your family, and anyone else using your docks safe!