As far as boats go, pontoon boats are safe when compared with high-speed motor boats, rafts for river rapids, or sailboats that require sailing skill. However, just like any watercraft, basic safety guidelines can help protect any passenger from suffering injury or even death. If you have a pontoon boat, or if you are planning on renting a boat this summer, here are some safety tips to consider.
1. Make sure everyone has access to and is wearing a properly fitting life jacket.
Pontoon boats do not reach very high speeds, but that doesn't mean accidents can't occur. Life jackets are the first rule of water safety. On even on a long and sturdy boat, you could still need them. Be sure that young children have jackets available to wear. Don't rely on the jacket of an adult to provide safety for a young child.
2. Only use a pontoon boat on smooth, level water.
Pontoon boats are best used for calm seas. They do not have the nimble design that allows a motorboat, small yacht, or sailboat to cut through rough water or larger waves. In fact, the flat, sturdy design is a hazard in choppy water, because the board-like deck of the boat (normally quite sturdy) will flip more easily and, once flipped, it will be exceedingly difficult to turn right side up. If anybody is below deck in the cabin of a large pontoon boat, they will be trapped. Following closely the cues of the weather and if the lake is large, use the pontoon boat to stay close to the shore for an easy, quick escape to the safety of land.
3. Make sure there is enough seating for all the passengers.
You should not have so many passengers on your boat that some remain standing during sailing. Pontoon boats are great for sightseeing, fishing, and relaxing, but they still hit a slight wave that sends a standing passenger tumbling down, possibly hitting their head or even falling overboard. If you need more seating for your boat (and it will fall within the passenger restriction for your model), consider ordering extra pontoon boat seats and having them installed on the deck. Makeshift seating is not safe for passengers.
For more information on pontoon furniture and other features, contact a boating outfitter near you. You can make your pontoon boat safe and enjoyable, no matter the age and ability of your passengers.