Hurricane Preparedness Best Practices

It’s only May, and the southeastern United States has
already experienced two named storms.

Hurricanes are destructive and potentially deadly storms
that can cause a tremendous amount of property damage and, occasionally, people’s
lives. Longtime residents of coastal Florida, the Carolinas, Texas,
Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are familiar with the drill – but there are
always new people and always procrastinators every year. Hurricane preparedness
takes time! Don’t leave it to the last minute. Here are some things to keep in
mind:

Hurricane season is normally June through November. But that
doesn’t mean the occasional storm can’t come early or late. Don’t get
complacent.

  • Maintain situational awareness. Keep an eye and
    ear on national and local media, and monitor developing weather systems.
  • Track the projected path of storms, using
    websites like National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov).
  • Do a risk assessment for your home. Assess
    vulnerability to storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. A Category 5 hurricane
    could result in storm surge of 30 feet above ground level in some areas. You
    can find a storm surge risk map at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/risk/.
  • Plan on at least a three-day wait before substantial
    government assistance is in place. FEMA can’t put its trucks and trailers in
    the direct path of the storm. It takes at least three days for state and FEMA
    resources to be put in place.
  • Cut down large trees overhanging your house
    and garage. The tree could fall, taking out part of your house.
  • Expect a run on hurricane supplies in the last
    48 hours before the storm. Buy your batteries, bottled water, fuel cans,
    generators and other supplies before you need them.
  • Invest in hardened windows, shutters and doors.
  • Failing that, buy your plywood well ahead of
    time, along with a drill and screws to board up your windows.
  • Obey evacuation orders. If you receive an
    evacuation order, you are getting it because the authorities know they will not
    be able to reach you in an emergency. Many people in coastal communities are
    killed by hurricanes – or vanish forever – when they ignore orders to evacuate.
  • Keep your homeowners or renters coverage updated
    with the current replacement value of your home and belongings.
  • Inventory your belongings. You can use sites like:
    Lockboxer.com, Knowyourstuff.org (a creation of the Insurance Information
    Institute) and Stuffsafe.com. These
    resources are free or very low cost, and will facilitate compensation from your
    insurance company if your home is damaged or destroyed by a weather event.
  • Fill your gas tank. Many times, gas stations
    run out of fuel in the day or so before a storm. If you can’t fuel your
    vehicle, you can’t evacuate. And you may not be able to function.
  • Get a battery-operated radio. Don’t
    count on cell phones working for a number of days after a storm.
  • You may be without power for as long as two
    weeks and sometimes longer. Keep nonperishables, batteries and flashlights.
  • Keep your generator outdoors. Every year, people
    die from carbon monoxide poisoning because they moved their generator indoors
    to protect it from theft.
  • Understand your generator’s capacity. Generators
    have a limited load. This is especially important to know when you start up
    electrical items connected to the generator, because startups cause a spike in
    electrical demand.
  • Know your neighbors. Your neighbors may have a
    harder time preparing or evacuating from storms than you do, because of
    frailty, disability, young children, poverty or lack of reliable
    transportation.
  • Look out for family members of emergency
    responders. Police, fire department, National Guard members and medical
    personnel often have to concentrate on preparing for the mission, and have less
    time to attend to their own homes and families.
  • Know your community emergency management contacts.
    You can find an online listing at http://www.ready.gov/community-state-info
  • Don’t underestimate tropical storms. Just
    because it’s not a hurricane doesn’t mean it can’t do a lot of damage locally.
    Tropical storms can dump as much rain as a hurricane.

By understanding these guidelines, you can be an asset to
your community in the event of a hurricane, instead of a drain on emergency
resources. You will also have an easier time getting reimbursed by your
insurance company for any damage done, and be doing your part to keep overall
hurricane insurance premiums down.

Boating and Your Money

When it comes to boating, the only surprises you want are unexpected whale sightings. But we all know the unexpected happens – and that’s why we have boating insurance. But boating insurance doesn’t – and shouldn’t – protect you from everything. To avoid getting hit with unexpected bills and expenses, you have got to take initiative and understand your boat and your policy.

  • Keep policies current. That means you need to update your boat insurance policy to account for any refitting or major upgrades. The rule of thumb: If your upgrade or refit materially changes the market value of the boat, you need to upgrade your policy to reflect the replacement value of the boat. If you lost the whole boat, and everything in it, what’s the true replacement value?  Tip: Insurers take account of depreciation. Unless you keep careful records documenting every new upgrade or piece of personal property on the boat, they will assume everything is the same age as the boat itself. That’s tough when you just put a brand new engine on a 20-year old boat. They’ll pay for a 20 year old engine – and you won’t be made whole in the event of a total loss.

For example: Many yacht owners have taken to installing high end home theater or AV systems in their boats. These installations can run tens of thousands of dollars and more – and are a frequent target for thieves. If you install an A/V system into your boat, and it gets ripped off, you will get a check for the verifiable damage to the boat – but not for the stolen A/V equipment, unless you get your policy adjusted so that the new system is covered.

  • Take care of the boat. Maintenance is a part of boat ownership. Maintenance costs, including periodic trips to drydock for a thorough hull scraping, should be figured into your overall cost projections. As they say, a stitch in time saves nine.

You’d think people shouldn’t have to be told anymore, but boat owners frequently ask things of their boat engines that they’d never expect their cars to do. Like operate leak free even though the seals have dried out from weeks or months of disuse. Basic maintenance tasks like changing engine oil once in a while, and being sure to crank that motor up on a regular basis to keep fluids moving through the hoses and around the metal parts go a long way to reducing overall boat ownership costs, and preventing major repairs and the replacement of entire engines.

  • Store the boat properly. When you pull the boat out of the water, tilt the bow upwards a little, and remove the drain plug to allow any water that gets past your covers, if any, to drain right out of the boat.
  • Don’t forget your fishing gear. Many fishermen – professional and recreational – will buy a boat, insure it, and then spend thousands on tackle, mounts, swivels, chairs and the latest gee-whiz sonar fish locator system. If something happens to the boat, and you don’t contact the carrier and add that gear to your policy, it’s not covered.
  • Keep an inventory. Create a list of everything of value on the boat, by serial number. Photograph everything.  Keep your receipts. Hint: Don’t keep your receipts and inventory on the boat.
  • Document incidents. Take photos of any damage at the scene, as soon as possible.

Remember, boat insurance is structured differently than auto insurance. Where auto insurance is designed to pay the full replacement value of a given make and model car, with a given amount of miles on it, boating insurance is much more variable. There’s nothing as reliable as a Blue Book to guide boat insurance adjusters, and the market is much less liquid. As a result, documentation is even more important for boat insurance than it is for auto insurance. Read and understand the policy, what it covers, what it doesn’t cover, and ensure any changes to your boat’s value or any additional property on the boat is documented. 

Is Your Home’s Chimney Ready for Winter?

Some of the smoke that flows up your chimney condenses and becomes creosote that sticks to the flue. Creosote is a hard tar-like substance that builds up over time. As the coat of creosote thickens, it increases the chance of a fire breaking out in the chimney. 

When a chimney fire burns, extremely high temperatures are created that can cause cracks to form in the flue. These cracks can pose a serious health threat to your family because they allow carbon monoxide that would normally vent up the chimney to be drawn back into the home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless colorless gas that can be lethal.

To prevent chimney problems, you should have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned yearly. The National Fire Protection Association has adopted these levels of inspection to create code NFPA 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances. This is the standard that certified chimney sweeps use when cleaning chimneys:

·   Level I Inspection: Recommended when the chimney is easily accessible and the homeowner is planning to maintain it as is. In this inspection, a certified chimney sweep verifies that the chimney structure is sound and that the chimney is free of obstructions and combustible deposits such as creosote.

·   Level II Inspection: If the homeowner has added a new home heating appliance or changed the type of fuel being burned, the chimney requires a Level II inspection. This inspection level may also be required after the sale of a property or an event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. This inspection includes the Level I inspection plus the inspection of accessible portions of the attics, crawl spaces and basements. It may also include a performance test, such as a smoke or a pressure test, and an interior chimney video inspection if recommended.

·   Level III Inspection: When a Level I or Level II inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without access to concealed areas, a Level III inspection is recommended. This type of inspection confirms the proper construction and condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Level III inspections are also necessary when investigating an incident that caused damage to a chimney or building.

In addition to yearly inspections, you may also want to consider a metal chimney liner. They protect the chimney from corrosion as a result of the byproducts released during combustion. Liners are made from stainless steel or aluminum and can be used to repair existing chimneys. They are U.L. tested, and if properly installed and maintained, they are safe and durable. Stainless steel is used in chimneys for wood burning, gas, or oil applications. Aluminum is only used for certain medium efficiency gas applications. High temperature insulation is required to be used in conjunction with the liners to ensure safety.

Spring into the New Season with a Flood Insurance Check

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) is reminding homeowners that warmer temperatures not only signal the coming of spring, but they also contribute to snowmelts, which increases the risk of flooding in some parts of the country.  Hence, there is no better time than now to review your flood insurance to ensure you are adequately covered against flood-related damage.

No region of the U.S. is immune from floods, including inland flooding, flash floods and seasonal storms. In fact, over 20 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas. However, specific parts of nine U.S. states are especially vulnerable to flooding in the spring of 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather service. In these geographic areas there is either a high soil moisture level or an above normal snowfall over the winter months that is now melting. These regions include:

·            Southeastern Colorado

·            Northern Illinois

·            Eastern Iowa

·            Southeastern Minnesota

·            Southwestern New York

·            Northeastern Ohio

·            Northwestern Pennsylvania

·            Eastern South Dakota

·            Southern Wisconsin

The I.I.I. is advising residents in these areas to be especially vigilant about their flood insurance coverage. It is also recommending that even if you don’t live in one of these locations, you should still consider purchasing flood insurance because 90 percent of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve some type of flooding. There is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance policies to take effect, so it is imperative to apply before the season gets under way.

The agency has established the following points for homeowners to consider if they are thinking about buying flood insurance:

§ Standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance does not cover flood damage: Only a flood insurance policy, available to homeowners and renters through the federal government, will cover flood-related losses.

§ Flood insurance is easy to purchase: Federal flood insurance policies can be purchased directly from an insurance agent, and are available to communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Nearly 100 insurance companies write and service NFIP policies.

§ Flood insurance is affordable: The annual premium for a residential NFIP policy starts at $112 per year, according to FEMA, and increases according to the level of flood risk and amount of coverage needed. The maximum coverage amount is $250,000 for the structure of the home and $100,000 for its contents.

§ It is easy to assess your flood risk: More than 20,000 communities in all 50 U.S. states and territories voluntarily participate in the NFIP, encompassing nearly all properties in the nation’s high-risk flood zones. Enter your address at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/riskassesment/findpropertyform.jsp to determine your level of flood risk.

§ Excess flood insurance policies add an extra layer of coverage: A growing number of private insurers have begun offering excess flood policies, intended to provide water damage protection to homeowners over and above the limits provided by the NFIP policies.

§ Without insurance, relief from floods primarily comes in the form of loans: If your community is declared a disaster area, no-interest or low-interest loans are usually made available by the federal government as part of the recovery effort. These loans are just that—loans—and must be paid back. Obtaining a flood insurance policy is the only way to protect yourself fully from the cost of flooding.

Learn to Safely Navigate Winter’s Driving Conditions

The hazards of the road increase in winter, as the weather becomes less predictable. To avoid these conditions, you might be able to cut down on your driving, but you probably can’t eliminate it altogether…and maybe you wouldn’t want to. Therefore, it’s essential that you take steps to lessen your risk.

As with many things in life, preparation is the key to managing winter driving hazards. The following tips can help to keep you safe on the road, regardless of the weather:

  • Check tire pressure monthly. Keep your vehicle’s tires inflated at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure for maximum performance on icy roads. It’s important that you perform a pressure check monthly because a change in temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit changes the tire pressure about one pound per square inch. Added benefits of keeping tires properly inflated include better gas mileage and increased tire life.
  • Have your battery checked. Cold slows down the chemical reaction in a car’s battery, which decreases its power output. In fact, starting power drops dramatically below 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure your car’s battery is fully charged to compensate for the drop in output.
  • Know what your car is capable of handling. Your vehicle may have all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and all-weather tires. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that these features are a panacea for all the problems associated with winter driving. Becoming too complacent about the car’s ability to handle tough road conditions is a sure fire way to find yourself in a bad situation.
  • Learn to stay focused. When you drive, focus all of your attention on the road so you can anticipate hazards. Keeping your mind on the road ahead allows you to plan for areas that usually remain icy even when roads are clear, like bridges, overpasses and heavily shaded spots. The more aware you are, the better your ability to respond.
  • Exercise extra caution when necessary. Intersections with stoplights or stop signs can become deceptively treacherous when the weather is bad. Because so much traffic slides to a halt in the same location, the snow tends to become packed, and develops a slick icy surface. Drivers who spin their tires when starting up from a stopped position compound the problem. To compensate for these conditions, begin braking sooner when approaching an intersection. This will allow you more time to make necessary adjustments.
  • Plan when and how you will travel. Travel during daylight hours and wear sunglasses that provide UV protection to shield your eyes from snow and ice glare. Take the most direct route possible to your destination, and allow extra travel time in case you encounter unexpected problems.

Keep your vehicle stocked for an emergency. Be sure to have blankets and snacks in your car or truck to tide you over if you are stranded or stopped by bad road conditions.

Excessive Holiday Drinking and Driving Don’t Mix

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day include the most important entertaining season on many people’s social calendars. While these festivities are a wonderful part of the holiday season, they do bring with them a very serious problem-partygoers who drink too much and then get behind the wheel of a car.

Many people downplay the issue, but statistics prove how serious it is. According to the Community Alcohol Information Program (CAIP), a non-profit agency that provides alcohol education, assessment and evaluation services to persons convicted of alcohol-related offenses in New Hampshire, two million alcohol-impaired driving collisions occur each year in this country. Accidents caused by alcohol-impaired drivers are the most frequently committed violent crimes in America today.

CAIP offers these other sobering statistics about drinking and driving:

  • The average alcohol-impaired driver arrested on the highway has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20%, more than double the level for presumed intoxication in most states. This level represents 14 drinks of 86-proof liquor (or 14 beers) in a four-hour period for a man weighing 180 lbs.
  • Between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. on weekends, in some parts of the country, 10% of all drivers are legally impaired. Most Americans drink alcohol, and more than 80% admit to driving after drinking.
  • When drinkers are at the presumed level of intoxication, the risk of their causing an accident is six times greater than for non-drinking drivers.

Some people persist in drinking and driving based on myths about how the body reacts to alcohol and its ability to overcome alcohol’s effects. Scientific studies supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provide important information that belies two commonly held beliefs about drinking and driving:

  • Myth: You can drive as long as you aren’t slurring words or acting erratically. Fact: The skills and coordination needed for driving are compromised long before the obvious signs of intoxication are visible. In addition, the sedative effects of alcohol, combined with late night hours, place you at much greater risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.
  • Myth: Drink coffee because caffeine will sober you up. Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but it doesn’t counteract the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and even more time to return to normal. There are no quick cures.

Alcohol affects the brain and body long after you stop drinking. Any alcohol that remains in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream and circulate through the body. That means judgment and coordination can be affected for hours after you’ve taken that last drink. Also keep in mind that alcohol heightens feelings of stress or anxiety, which can lead to violent behavior.

Does this mean you can’t have a few drinks at a holiday party? No, but what it does mean is that you need to be responsible if you do drink. Here are a few tips to remember:

  • Know your limits and never drink more than you can safely handle.
  • Don’t get behind the wheel if you drink. Ask a sober driver to escort you home.
  • Don’t drink if there is someone at the gathering with whom you have a grievance.
  • Offer to be a designated driver for a friend.
  • Call law enforcement if you see someone driving erratically.

Keeping these tips in mind can help avoid tragedy during the holiday season.

Make Christmastime Safety Time

One of the most anticipated activities of the holiday season is the decorating. The smell of a fresh tree, the glistening garland hanging from its branches, and the glow of candles all are synonymous with Christmas. However, trees and other holiday decorations can pose safety hazards if used improperly. Remember the following tips to keep your Christmas decorating merry:

·   Trees-If you buy a fresh tree, choose one with green needles that are hard to pull from the branch and that bend without breaking. The base of the tree should be sticky to the touch. Place the tree a safe distance away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources, and keep it away from high traffic areas and doorways. Mount the tree in a sturdy stand; fasten a large tree to the wall or ceiling with thin guy wires. Keep the tree stand full of water at all times.

·   Lights-Use lights that have the “UL” label. Check all lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Outdoor lights should be weatherproof, and fastened securely. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord. Don’t use lights on a metallic tree because the tree can become charged with electricity if the lights are faulty. Always turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house.

·   Candles-Never use lighted candles on a fresh tree, or near other evergreens. Stand candles in nonflammable holders and place the holders where they can’t be knocked over.

·   Trimmings-Use flame-retardant decorations. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles made from plastic or nonleaded metals because materials containing lead are poisonous if ingested by children or pets. Spun glass “angel hair” is flameproof; however, if nonflammable artificial snow is sprayed on it, the combination burns rapidly.

Also make safety a holiday priority in your gift giving, when selecting children’s toys. Recent recalls of toys with lead paint or other defects highlight just some of the issues to keep in mind about toy safety. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers more guidelines to keep the kids on your holiday shopping list safe:

·   Don’t buy toy chests without safety hinges on the lids. Those that can slam shut have been blamed for 21 deaths during the past 10 years.

·   Select toys appropriate for the skills, abilities and interests of a child. Federal safety requirements concerning sharp points apply to all toys for children under age 8.

·   Make sure all instructions are clear to you and, when appropriate, to the child.

·   Toys with long strings or cords are not recommended for infants and very young children because they can cause strangulation. Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops or ribbons in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled.

·   Discard plastic wrapping on toys immediately before it becomes a deadly plaything.

·   Check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Be Proactive to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

As the temperature drops, pipes that are exposed to the cold are prone to freeze. This is especially true if they are located in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages. Pipes that run along poorly insulated exterior walls can also be affected by the extremes in temperature.

The continued freezing and then thawing of these pipes can cause the metal to become weakened and break. Water damage caused by burst pipes can result in toxic mold. If the damage isn’t repaired correctly, or isn’t repaired soon enough, it can cause a build-up of mold inside the walls that can make a house uninhabitable. Keep in mind that your homeowner’s policy covers damage from burst pipes, but most likely not related damage from mold.

The best way to keep from being in this situation is to be proactive and prevent pipes from freezing:

·   Install adequate insulation in outside walls that have pipes running along side them, under the floors above the basement, and above the attic ceiling.

·   Disconnect the garden hose before the cold weather begins.

·   Wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves.

·   Seal foundation cracks in crawlspaces that could let cold air in that will cause pipes to freeze.

·   Open the cabinet doors under your sinks during extreme cold weather to allow warm air to get in.

·   Run a small trickle of water through cold and hot water faucets attached to pipes that could potentially freeze.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, the pipe is probably frozen. There are some things you can do to thaw the pipe safely. Here are some guidelines recommended by the American Red Cross:

·   Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.

·   Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen by using either an electric heating pad that is wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable electric space heater, or by wrapping the pipe in towels that have been soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause it to explode. Open flames present serious fire danger, as well as risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

·   Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is inaccessible, or if you cannot thaw the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.

·   Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may too.

If you would like more information about protecting your pipes from freezing, you can access the American Red Cross’ Fact Sheet: Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes by logging on to http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont338_lang0_155.pdf

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft This Tax Season

With tax season upon us your personal information is floating around everywhere and identity thieves are working overtime to steal it.  From social security numbers to employer and income information, it’s an identity theft nightmare waiting to happen. Unless, of course, you’re a thief. Then it’s identity theft paradise.

Don’t think it can happen to you?  According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 8.4 million U.S. adults were victims of identity fraud in 2007.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe this tax season:

  • Choose your tax preparer carefully. Ask for referrals from friends and coworkers.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the IRS. Such emails often contain links that automatically download software designed to steal your passwords and account information.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don’t give out your Social Security number if it’s not necessary.
  • Guard your mailbox. Your mailbox is a treasure chest for crooks this time of year. If someone gets a hold of your tax forms they’ll know your social security number, your employer and how much money you made last year. If you don’t yet have a locking mailbox, now would be the perfect time to get one.
  • Watch the websites you visit. If you use online tax services, just be sure you are dealing with a legitimate site. Clone websites can be easily set up by scammers with the sole purpose of harvesting your personal information.

Tax season is ripe for identity theft, but you don’t have to be a victim. By keeping the above tips in mind, you can get through tax season without putting yourself at an increased risk of identity theft.

Ensure Your Boating Experience Is a Real Pleasure Cruise

Published reports from the U.S. Coast Guard show that boating deaths and injuries increased for the second consecutive year in 2006. Aside from the disturbing trend in boating deaths, the biggest change was actually in the amount of property damage, $43 million in 2006 as compared with $38 million in 2005.

These statistics should serve as a powerful reminder to all watercraft owners to review their insurance coverage. Owners of canoes, small sailboats, and small engine powerboats generally have limited coverage for physical damage included with their homeowner’s insurance policy, but liability coverage has to be added as a policy endorsement. Physical damage coverage is typically equal to 10 percent or less of their home’s property value. If you find the coverage limits offered by your homeowner’s policy to be insufficient, you’ll likely need a separate boat insurance policy.

Since no coverage exists under a homeowner’s policy for larger boats, yachts, jet skis and wave runners, a separate boat insurance policy is a must. Coverage for physical damage includes the hull, machinery, fittings, furnishings and permanently attached equipment up to pre-determined amount. Such policies also provide additional protection for:

  • Injuries to another person
  • Damage to someone else’s property
  • Legal expenses incurred by someone using the boat with the owner’s permission
  • Injuries to the boat owner and other passengers

Even though you may have solid insurance coverage, the Insurance Information Institute (III) offers the following suggestions to help you avoid having to file a claim:

  •  
    1. Check weather forecasts before heading out.
    2. Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
    3. Check engine, fuel, electrical and steering systems, especially for exhaust-system leaks.
    4. Carry one or more fire extinguishers, matched to the size and type of boat. Keep them readily accessible and in condition for immediate use.
    5. Equip the vessel with required navigation lights and with a whistle, horn or bell.
    6. Don’t overload. Distribute weight evenly.
    7. Don’t stand up or shift weight suddenly in a small boat; and don’t permit riding on the bow, seatbacks or gunwales.
    8. Be sure you bring paddles or oars, a first-aid kit, a supply of fresh water, a tool kit and spare parts, a flashlight, flares and a radio.
    9. Make sure that every person on board wears a life jacket.
    10. Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.