Can Safety be Taken Overboard?

I’m often asked about safety and how much is too much. I was in the Occupational Safety field for almost two decades and I’ll take a shot at answering this one in a somewhat brief manner, and believe me I can go on forever about Safety!

When asked, the overwhelming majority of people would rather be “safe than sorry” so for me, the short answer to the title question is “No, you can’t be too safe”. Always remember that there are three factors at play: Rules, Equipment, and Training but most importantly safety is a mind-set, and if you don’t prepare your attitude now, you are preparing to fail in an emergency later. Unfortunately “later” may include your family or friends.

On one hand, it makes good sense to make sure all your boating equipment is in good working order and most of the time it only takes a few minutes to inspect all of the gear you are required to have on board with you. It also makes good sense to keep extra safety gear on board provided it doesn’t hamper the free flow of movement needed to operate and maneuver about the vessel. However, meeting just the minimal requirements speaks volumes to me about ones attitude towards safety.

On the other hand, you can create an unsafe situation by applying too many safeguards to any one circumstance. In this case, at least there is an effort towards the ultimate goal of keeping people safe. There is no need to have 20 PFD’s on board a vessel that has a capacity of 6 passengers. As you can envision, the boat would be overflowing with life jackets which could produce a dangerous situation and the storage area used may best be utilized for other equipment such as bailing devices and emergency fuel. In this scenario, you can still keep people safe with less PDF’s and increase their safety by carrying the other pieces of equipment.

So, there needs to be a balance and I’ve always said the two words that are paramount in the safety world are “Due Diligence”. Review, assess, review again, and assess again. Chances are you’ll come to the right conclusions.

Connecticut Boating Certificates (CBC) emphasizes safety in our classrooms because it directly relates to saving lives. Way too many injuries and deaths occur each year that could have been 100% avoided with both the know-how and the right safety gear. I hope this was helpful and always remember to step back and ask yourself, “is this really safe?”