As we head into the boating season, The National Safe Boating Councils 'Wear It campaign' suggests these important safety messages. Take a look at these stats from the U.S. Coast Guard's 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics, the most recent report. The stats are a compilation of data from 50 states.
- 83% of boat drowning victims did not have a life jacket on
- 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the driver had no boating safety instruction
- 15% of the deaths involved alcohol
- Two-thirds of drowning victims are able swimmers
- 4,463 boating accidents occurred, that's up 7.3% from 2015
- 700 deaths occurred, up 12% from the year before
- 2,903 injuries that is an increase of 11.1%
- 49 million dollars of property damage
One of the primary safety messages is Wear It: regardless of what type of boating activity you're taking part in, wear a safety belt yourself and ask all your passengers to wear one. It’s the single most effective safety measure you can take. To read more on boating safety, download a copy of Boating Safety Tips from the National Safe Boating Council, which we’re reprinted below. We added some links to the tips, as well.
1. Put a life jacket on. Regardless of what activity you have planned on, always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast, often leaving no time to reach and put on a life jacket. Learn more: Life jacket types, fit and care.
2. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, that it fits correctly and is appropriate for your water activity. A life jacket that is too small or large can cause problems.
3. Acknowledge state boating laws. Laws and Rules differ from state to state and violations can mean ticketing, fines or even jail time. State Boating Laws.
4. Enroll in a boating safety course. Learn essential tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course. Many courses are available online and can save you money on your Texas boat insurance. Learn more: US Coast Guard – Boating Safety Courses.
5. Make sure your boat is prepared. Many parts need to be checked and rechecked on any boat. Book a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary before you head out on the water. Every Vessel Safety Check is conducted 100 percent free of charge. U.S. Coast Guard’s Vessel Checks.
6. Found out what your boat’s capacity is. If you overload your boat, the boat may become unstable and capsize.
7. Always check the forecast, including the temperature of the water. Check the latest marine weather forecast before going out, and keep a regular check for conditions as they may change. National Weather Service Marine Forecast.
8. Dress correctly. Always dress for the weather, wear layers in colder weather, and bring a spare set of clothes in the event you get wet.
9. Remember to file a float plan. File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the boat, trip, persons onboard, trailer and vehicle, emergency contacts and communication equipment. Learn more at the Coast Guard’s Float Plan Central.
10. Always know and follow navigation rules. Know the “Rules of the Road” such as operator’s responsibility, safe speed, crossing, maintaining a proper lookout, overtaking situations and meeting head-on. Know what’s going on around you at all times, and always travel at safe speeds for the area. Learn more about navigation rules at Boat on Course from the National Safe Boating Council.
11. Don’t drink alcohol while onboard. Alcohol was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of fatalities in 2016. Learn more at Operation Dry Water from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.
12. Learn about the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless and colorless gas that can kill or poison someone who breathes too much of it. Make sure you have a working CO detector, and always dock, anchor or beach at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine, and never block exhaust outlets. Learn more at Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Your Boat from the CDC.
13. Keep in contact. Communication devices can be the most vital piece of emergency equipment on board a boat, especially in the case of an emergency. Be sure to have at least two communication devices on board, such as satellite phones, VHF radios and personal locator beacons (PLB) and emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB). Cell phones are not reliable in an emergency situation.
More boating safety resources