One activity that not many people can deny enjoying, especially during the summer, is boating. Heading out into the water can be one of the most relaxing or exciting activities that a person engages in. Unfortunately, this fun activity has some inherent dangers related to it. This means that everyone, regardless of whether they’re canoeing or on a speedboat, needs to understand the risks that they face and how to reduce these hazards.
Many people don’t realize just how many accidents can occur due to boating mishaps. The United States Coast Guard, for instance, found that 758 people died in boating accidents in 2011 alone. Of the people who died in these accidents, 70 percent actually died due to drowning. Of those individuals, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.
Additional statistics show that boaters who have a .10 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), which is barely over the legal automobile driving limit, are 10 times likelier to die in boating accidents than the typical person who isn’t inebriated at all. This means that not wearing life jackets and consuming alcohol are leading contributors to boating accidents and deaths.
Staying Safe on the Water
The most obvious tips for staying safe on the water are avoiding the aforementioned hazards — alcohol and nonuse of life jackets — while enjoying a day out on the lake or ocean. There are still several other safety tips that should be abided, as well. Some tips that come directly from the Coast Guard are to always have throwable ring floatation devices and flare guns on board. Both of these devices can be lifesaving if trouble arises.
It’s also imperative to have a “float plan” when going out. These are just documents giving detailed information about a vessel, its occupants, its safety gear, and even where and when it was traveling. These documents will provide vital information to rescuers in case an accident occurs. The few minutes that these documents can save may literally mean life or death during an emergency situation. These documents can be found on the Coast Guard’s website.
Preparation before Boating
Some of the aforementioned safety tips can go a long way, but there are others that should be done long before going out on a boat. One of the smartest things to do is have boating insurance. This will make sure that, regardless of any incident, a boater and their family will be taken care of. Additionally, the Coast Guard recommends taking boating safety courses. This applies to everyone, especially considering the fact that 63.4 percent of boating accidents involve boaters who claim that they’re “very experienced.”
No one expects to be hurt or injured in a boating accident, and with the proper preparation, it’s likely that they won’t be. Unfortunately, the best boater in the world may not be able to avoid another negligent boater or submerged danger. This is why it’s necessary to always consider every possibility before heading out. From calling for help with a flare to being able to handle simple boat repairs with insurance, just a tiny bit of forethought can go a long way.
It’s hard to not have a great time out on a boat, but you should always ensure that you, your family, and your finances are secure in case of an accident.