Essentials Of Boating Safety

Boating is mostly done for recreation. It is not a required activity, like commuting, so accidents are all the more tragic.

Often, boating accidents are exacerbated by the use of alcohol. Heavy drinking is dangerous, of course, but even light social drinking can be enough for devastating mistakes to occur. Combining boat navigation and alcohol is never a good idea.

The following are some basic safety guidelines everyone should follow to help lower the risk of a boating accident:

  • Never drink while driving a boat. Prohibit even social drinking among your passengers. Alcohol is the leading contributor to boat accidents. 17% of all boating deaths involved alcohol in 2012, according to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) statistics.
  • Always use safety gear, especially life jackets. According to the USCG stats, 71% of boating accident fatalities in 2012 resulted from drowning, and 85% of the drowning victims did not wear life jackets.
  • Excessive speed contributes to many accidents.
  • Boat with people who actually know how to handle a boat. Ask the boat operator if they have taken certified courses. Only 14 % of boating accidents involved boats operated by pilots with safety training, according to the USCG. Operator inexperience was a major factor contributing to accidents in 2012.
  • Consider taking advantage of a free Vessel Safety Check from the US Coast Guard. Machinery failure is a major contributor to accidents.
  • Plan your trip, check the weather and include the right equipment on board, such as personal flotation devices, flashlights and spare batteries, flares, drinking water, and  fire extinguishers.

Make safety a priority. The next time you consider recreational boating, take extra care to make sure everyone comes back safely.