When you’re boating, one of the places you’d think would be the least dangerous is the dock. After all, when you’re on the dock, you’re essentially on land.
That isn’t really accurate, though, and there are specific hazards posed by docks. For example, someone who is exiting the front of the boat to help the driver dock could get their foot or other body part pinched between the dock and boat. Someone boating a boat who slips could fall between the boat and dock, which poses a threat of crushing injuries and drowning.
That’s not to mention the hazards associated with fueling near a dock or using electricity on a dock. Faulty wiring or piping can lead to a threat of injury to swimmers and boaters on the dock.
In 2010, for example, there was a case where a few teens were swimming near a dock with electrical wiring. That wiring was faulty and had energized the surrounding area. One of those teens was electrocuted when they elected to try to climb out of the water using a metal ladder.
What should you do to prevent injuries while docking or leaving the dock?
Your first step should be to know if there is electricity or fuel around the dock. If so, you should not allow anyone in the water until you are at least 10 feet away from any electrical source. If there is fuel nearby, it’s best to avoid the water and using any kind of flame.
Another good idea is to make sure your guests know when to exit or enter the boat. While someone might want to jump off onto the dock to help guide the front of your boat in, that’s not very safe. If they slip or get pinched between the boat and dock, they could suffer serious injuries. It’s better to slowly drive toward the dock and to put the boat into reverse if you’re approaching too quickly. Make sure everyone on board is seated, so that they are not thrown forward or overboard if you hit the dock harder than expected.
Finally, when boarding, the boat should remain tethered to the dock. If using a ladder, two hands should be used, and each person who enters or exits should be monitored by someone else. That way, if there is an accident, the other person will be there to help immediately and to call for help.