17:00 PM

American Family Insurance offers tips to help you get your boat ready for summer

Madison, Wis. (May 29, 2015) - The temperatures are climbing and winter has loosened its icy grip. As a boater, you might be thinking of taking your vessel out of storage and getting it ready for another season on the water.

"Getting ready is more than just washing off winter's dust and dirt," says Michael Milbourn, personal lines performance senior analyst. "It means checking all systems to make sure they're working properly and safely to prevent problems or injury."

Here are some tips from American Family Insurance to follow to get your boat ready. Before starting, always follow your manufacturer's guidelines and specifications.

Cleaning – This is a good opportunity to go over the interior and exterior to look for any damage. While you're cleaning, check all surfaces for damage or excessive wear. Be sure to use an environmentally safe cleaning solution recommended for boats.

Fuel system – Inspect for leaks or damage and pay special attention to hoses, connections and tank surfaces. Replace worn or damaged components and verify all fittings and clamps are properly secured. Make sure the engine, exhaust and ventilation systems are all functioning properly.

Belts, cables and hoses – These items can become brittle and crack during storage. Check belts to make sure they fit tightly around pulleys. Inspect control cables for cracks or swelling. This may be a sign they need to be replaced.

Electrical system - Inspect all connections for cleanliness and tightness. Corrosion is a sign a connection may not be secure. To prepare electrical connections for the summer, remove the terminals and use a wire brush to clean them, along with all cable ends. Test your battery to make sure it can hold a charge. Also test components such as the radio, GPS, compass, depth finder and all other marine electronics.

Engine and drivetrain - Check oil, power steering, power trim and coolant levels. If you didn't do so when your boat went into storage, change the engine oil, oil filter and outdrive lubricants. Also, check spark plugs and wiring for signs of excessive wear or damage.

Sails – If your boat moves by sail, check fabric for wear, decay or other damage. Check masts, pulleys and rigging for damage or excessive wear. Repair or replace as necessary.

Propellers - Inspect for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Damaged propellers can harm your drive train. Make sure the propeller is secured properly, and replace bearings when needed.

Hull - Look for blisters, distortions and cracks.

Metal and wood – Neglected metal and wood can result in pitting and may compromise their integrity.

Life jackets - Check all life jackets to ensure they are in good condition and that there are enough for all passengers. Make sure each passenger has the correct size life jacket for their body weight.

Fire extinguishers - Be sure all onboard fire extinguishers are the correct size and type for your boat, are fully charged and are stowed in the proper place.

Trailer - If you keep your boat on a trailer, make sure all rollers, bearings, lights, tie-downs and winches are in good working order. If your state requires trailer registration, make sure that is current.

If you're not sure how to do these safety checks yourself, or if you don’t have the right tools, have your boat serviced by a local, reputable mechanic. Investing a little time before the season to get your boat ready for the summer goes a long way toward having a safe and relaxing summer on the water.

About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wis.– based American Family Insurance is the nation's third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 373rd on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General, Homesite and AssureStart) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the Internet or by phone. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam. Google+ plus.google.com/+amfam/

American Family Insurance Company, American Family Mutual Insurance Company, American Standard Insurance Company of Ohio, American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, 6000 American Parkway, Madison WI 53783.

News media contact:
Sandra Spann
Media Relations
(608) 242-4100, ext. 32881