1. Avoid Alcohol Use
The number one cause of fatalities in boating accidents is alcohol. Surveys indicate that anywhere from 30% to 40% of individuals consume alcoholic beverages while on boats. Just like driving a car, controlling a boat while under the influence puts others at risk.
Boating stressors, such as the movement of waves and vibration of the engine, can also lead to a type of hypnosis that slows reaction times. When these stressors mix with alcohol use, those reaction times lag even further.
Almost a quarter of boating accidents that involve alcohol occur while the boat isn’t in motion. The best way to reduce the chance of an accident is by avoiding alcohol use altogether while boating.
2. Have Safety Equipment Available
Over 80% of individuals who drown from a boating accident are not wearing a life jacket. Having basic safety equipment available and ensuring passengers utilize it is one of the easiest ways to avoid accidents.
Basic boat safety equipment includes:
- Personal flotation devices (life jackets)
- Pyrotechnic devices (flares)
- Horns or whistles
- Fire extinguishers
- Signaling flags (Use an orange flag for a skier or tuber who has fallen into the water)
The US Coast Guard requires different equipment depending on the size of the vessel. However, having this equipment available may lessen the degree of fault in an accident.
t inattentiveness led to 381 injuries in 2017.
To ensure someone is always paying attention, consider pairing up with a trusted acquaintance when boating. Have someone else stay with you while you operate the vessel and be a lookout. Trade off who is operating the boat every once and a while to ensure fatigue or distracted driving doesn’t cause an accident.
3. Don’t Speed
Excessive speeding caused 269 accidents in 2017 — over a third of all recreational boating accidents that year — and continues to be one of the main contributing factors to crashes.
Even in areas where speed regulations are not enforced, it’s wise to consider the environment, your attentiveness, and everyone’s safety when traveling. Stay at a speed that provides ample time to notice and prevent threats and avoid the urge to race other watercraft.
4. Consider Double Duty
Operator inattentiveness routinely causes the most accidents. It’s easy to step away from the captain’s position for a few minutes when it appears no one, and nothing is anywhere in sight. It also seems less risky to engage in conversation or other activities while operating a boat than it does when driving a car, yeNothing compares to the feel of the wind and spray of the ocean or lake as you boat. It’s an exhilarating experience, but one moment of inattention can be costly.
There were approximately 650 recreational boating accidents in the US in 2017. And if an injury or fatality occurs on your boat, you could be held responsible.
Don’t let the siren call of the sea lull you into a false sense of security. Take these five steps to prevent summer accidents on your boat.
5. Check and Recheck the Weather and Location
Weather and hazardous waters cause the most accidents after factors connected to operating a boat itself.
Weather on the ocean can change in the blink of an eye. That’s why it’s crucial to keep your emergency radio on and consistently check the weather forecast. Know what to expect once you’re away from shore.
Also, research any areas you plan to travel to. Strong currents and rapid tidal flows can increase the chance of an accident and, thus, an injury.
When we adventure onto the water, we can’t forget that we have a responsibility to others. Sadly, many factors contribute to boating injuries, and most accidents are entirely preventable.
“Boaters have a duty to those on board to operate and maintain the vessel so that it is safe for passengers,” explains Jason Chalik, the founding attorney of Chalik & Chalik Law Offices. “If someone is hurt, a personal injury accident lawyer has the expertise to pursue compensation for those injured.”
Meaning, if a boater is found negligent of his or her duties, they can be sued for compensation.
Avoid the risks and stay safe by employing these five easy measures. Enjoy your day with the wind and water and steer clear of any unwanted surprises.