Spring has officially sprung and with the warming weather comes the long awaited boating season. While boating is a great summer activity with your family and friends, there is still inherent danger that comes with the hobby. According to the US Coast Guard, there were over 4,064 boating accidents resulting in 610 deaths in the year 2014 alone. In this article we will cover the causes of these accidents and how to better protect yourself from them.
Wear a Life Jacket
The life jacket is the single most important item to where when you are swimming or boating. The device will keep you afloat in case you get knocked unconscious and can drastically increase your change of surviving a boating accident. Drowning is the leading cause of death in fatal boating accidents at 78%. Of those, 84% were not wearing a life jacket. By simply wearing a life jacket your chance of survival goes up exponentially. Although they aren’t making any fashion statements, anyone who is on a boat should be wearing a life jacket of some kind.
Don’t Drink and Boat
According to the US Coast Guard, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents at 21%. Although drinking with your buddies and wake boarding is fun, it is extremely dangerous to mix any alcohol and motor vehicles. If your state or recreational park allows drinking on boats, make sure to always wear your life jacket and of course, the captain should ALWAYS be sober. If you notice someone drinking and driving a boat, alert someone and call the authorities immediately.
Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, and excessive speed all rank in the top five reasons for boating accidents. Having an experienced lookout who can alert the captain of any obstacles or hazards is crucial in maintaining boat safety. Care must always be taken when people are exiting and entering the vehicle. Make sure the boat is turned completely off and is in a resting state and your safety flag is clearly visible before people swim.
What to do in a Boating Accident
A boating accident can be a chaotic and confusing situation and it may not be clear on what exactly to do. These steps can better help you deal with a boating accident:
- The most important step in an accident is making sure that everyone is okay.
- Call the appropriate authorities for the body of water you are on (Coast Guard, Park Rangers, Local Police).
- If you hit another boat, exchange insurance information with the other person.
- Take any photos of damage or personal injury.
- Contact your personal attorney.
Boating is a great activity to share with your friends and family. With the appropriate caution and knowledge, it can be a fun (and safe) way to spend your summer. Have fun out there and be safe!