BoatUS: Beware of flood debris

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) is warning boaters about the potential risk of damage caused by flood debris just below the water in waterways and lakes. BoatUS has four tips for boaters to prevent damage this season.

Prepare for emergencies: Check bilge pumps to make sure they’re clear and working, and make sure to have extra bailers handy, like a bucket, hand pump, or cut-off detergent bottle. Have all safety and communications gear aboard, as well.

Stop for any “thud”: Stop the boat immediately if you hear a thud, and begin to inspect bilge or storage compartments for damage. Check boat again later to see if a crack has opened up due to bouncing of the boat. The boat may also begin to feel “funny” or become less responsive if there is water coming aboard due to damage.

Put on life jackets: If you notice water coming aboard, put on your life jacket immediately, and then notify the Coast Guard. Even a small amount of water entering the vessel can cause the boat to lose power and cut off the ability to send a distress call.

Be prepared to improvise: If there is a hole or crack in the hull, a bilge pump may not be enough to keep the boat afloat. Keep towels, wooden bungs, or other gear handy to attempt to plug up the leaks.

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