Being a property owner alone raises liability questions.
And if you have a swimming pool in your back yard – or on your commercial property – you already know what it takes to keep you, your neighbors and your family safe.
Like having a pool, having dock access to the water provides a huge amount of weekend fun and satisfaction.
But it presents the same kind of potential dangers and property owner liabilities as that pool does.
The first 2 important safety add-ons to your new dock in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa and surrounding areas will sound familiar for those pool owners.
#1: Dock Gate
Maybe you don’t need something QUITE so dramatic, but..
Controlling access to your dock is a benefit to both safety and the security of your boat.
The idea is simple. Put a gate where your dock meets your seawall or the waterline. Install a lock on it so kids, neighbors and crooks can’t easily get access to your boat.
Safety and security.
#2: Dock Railing
A railing keeps people from accidentally falling off the dock and into the water.
As a safety feature, you probably won’t find anything as clearly useful as this.
Smart pool owners have a fence around their pool because they know that no matter WHY someone falls in, they’re probably going to be liable in the end.
Just think of either side of your boat dock as your big, beautiful pool!
So if you would have a fence around your pool to keep people safe it makes sense to do the same for your dock.
Railing has the added benefit of making your dock a bit more of an entertainment space. People are more likely to hang out if they have a place to lean on comfortably. And it makes for a better experiencing if your fishing off the dock too.
There are 2 kinds of railing that have been popular:
Wooden Railing – just think of the railing you see around many decks and you’ll know exactly what a wooden railing is. It’s a great choice for a small budget.
You can upgrade that wooden railing by using a synthetic wood so there’s no maintenance too.
Cable Railing – is a higher end option and is becoming incredibly popular locally. As waterfront home values skyrocket in the Tampa Bay region people are investing more in luxury dock features.
You’ve probably seen cable railing along stair cases in loft style or modern luxury homes and commercial spaces.
Basically, you’re substituting a more common wooden baluster (the pieces between the rail frame that keep you from falling through) with lengths of cable.
Because your dock railing will be exposed to the elements a stainless steel cable and fittings are required. That, and the additional labor it takes to install it are what make it more expensive than a wooden rail.
#3: Gangway x 2
A gangway is a deployable bridge that leads from your boat onto the dock.
If you’re a Florida retiree with a new boat and dock, plan on having kids trundle on and off your boat or just find that step from dock to boat unnerving – a boat gangway is a must.
The safety considerations here should be pretty obvious.
Even if you don’t mind that first step, Mom and Dad, your 5 year old and probably many more that you’ll be taking out for the day won’t feel the same way.
And if loading a cooler full of beer or margaritas onto the boat before you leave is part of your prep checklist you should think especially hard about adding a gangway!
Injuries from slipping up making the step back onto the dock can be serious, so don’t leave this add-on out of your new dock or refurb plans.
Another kind of gangway is one that’s comes into play when you have boat lift and a traditional “L” shaped dock.
Every boat owner knows how important it is to maintain your hull and keep the boat clean. It’s only after you have had that boat lift for a while that you realize… there’s no access to the FAR side of it.
So it’s simple to clean, paint and maintain the hull on the dock-side of your boat while it’s suspended on the lift. But how do you get to the OTHER side?!
By getting an after-market gangway that give you access.
Why is this a safety add-on?
Because at some point you’ll be tempted to hang off the side of your boat and do the work anyway!
Dock Safety – Accessories and Features
There are a wide variety of options for upgrading your dock, but these 3 are ones that can keep you and your family a little bit safer!
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