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Boating Safety

Father of 8 Drowns in Boating Accident: Don Monday Jr., a father of eight, drowned on a lake in Texas with two of his children sitting in the boat. He entered the water to make repairs on the boat, but never came back up. The victim’s children, ages 8 and 13, were both wearing life jackets when a neighbor noticed they were stranded on the lake. Authorities later pulled Monday from the water; he was not wearing a life jacket.

Boat Safety Statistics boating

Thousands of people are injured and hundreds die in boating-related accidents each year. The following statistics are from the Center for Disease Control's boating safety website.

  • In 2018, there were 2,511 injuries and 633 fatalities from boating accidents.
  • Of the people who died, 77% drowned.
  • Of those who drowned, 84% were not wearing personal floatation devices.
  • Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents.

Prevent Boating Accidents

Wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

As the boating statistics from the CDC indicate, life jackets save lives. Life jackets are by far the best means for keeping yourself and others safe while boating. Anyone on a canoe, kayak, paddleboat or boat should be fitted with a proper, Coast Guard-approved life jacket and should be instructed to wear them at all times. Routinely inspect life jackets to ensure they are in proper working order and good condition. Discard damaged life jackets immediately.

Boater Safety Course

Since boat operators cause 7 out of 10 boating accidents, it’s clear that more people need to be trained on how to safely and properly operate a boat. Boater education courses are a great way to learn the rules for safe boat operation and are routinely offered in every state. Visit Boat-Ed.com to find a boater safety course near you.

Boat Inspection

Since boats are typically put in storage during the winter months, it is a good practice to inspect and service them before putting them back on the water each year. If boats are not removed from the water, at least once per year they should be removed from the water for a full inspection and maintenance check. Boat maintenance is the only way to keep boats in safe working order. Boats should also be routinely inspected to insure there are no defects that could use the boat to malfunction or become unsafe. Boat manufacturers can provide a resource outlining the necessary routine maintenance schedule.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Boats with motors produce an odorless, colorless gas called Carbon monoxide (CO) that can be poisonous or fatal if inhaled. CO poisoning is possible if a boat engine is left idling when people are playing or swimming nearby. Avoid idling whenever possible, especially near enclosed spaces like a boat lift or covered marina. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning as well as the most common ways people experience Carbon monoxide poisoning near boats.

Obey Water Rules

Most bodies of water have rules governing behavior on the water and it is important to be familiar with these rules and follow them. The rules are designed to protect the people on the water and the body of water itself. Rules usually include hours when certain activities are permitted, the size of boats allowed, safe locations for boating and boat speeds. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) personnel typically enforce these rules and failure to comply can result in fines. Knowing these rules and ensuring all boat operators are aware of them are essential in ensuring boater safety.

Many states, counties, and municipalities have unique boating rules specific to individual lakes. To learn more about these rules and regulations, check with your local boat patrol or municipality or look for safe boating notices on or near boat launches detailing specific updates or changes to local rules. Boat-Ed and the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Resource Center each have safety resources that will provide a great overview.

Avoid Alcohol

As mentioned before, alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boat accidents. Alcohol impairs judgment, diminishes vision, reduces reaction speed, and significantly decreases an individual’s ability to operate any type of vehicle. Alcohol and boating are a bad combination and should be strictly prohibited by organizations using boats. Alcohol abuse infractions should be handled with a zero tolerance policy. In addition to being extremely dangerous, consuming alcoholic beverages and operating a water vessel is illegal in all 50 states.

Topics: Aquatics