It’s hot outside, it’s a long weekend for most, and it’s the Fourth of July. Time to celebrate! This weekend is one of the busiest boating weekends of the year. Many people will head out on the water for one reason or another, so it’s no big surprise that the Coast Guard is asking boaters to be safe.
Countless things can go wrong on the water and the accident statistics are staggering. In 2007, almost 43% of accidents where people fell overboard result in death and over 64% resulted in injuries. Of the 6,932 boats involved in an incident on the water, 3,697 (53%) were not carrying life jackets at all, which resulted in 421 deaths. One recent article pointed out that on the Great Lakes last weekend, between June 26-28, four people died on or near the water and that none of those people were wearing life jackets.
Petty Officer Hulme uses a great analogy when talking about wearing a life jacket. In a recent news article, he suggested that boaters should follow the “Buckle up” slogan typically used for automobile passengers. According to Hulme, “Do you put on your seat belt right before an accident?” With the waterways crowded with boats and people, being prepared for any possible situation is key. Wearing a life jacket is one step that shouldn’t be neglected.
Some other words of caution:
- Do not operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Use proper navigation lights
- Stay clear of waterway channels if you stop
- Have an observer (other than the operator) watch for hazards and debris
- Carry and use a marine band radio for communication
- File a float plan with someone on shore
- Let passengers know when you speed up or slow down the boat
For a comprehensive and informative resource for all your boating needs, visit www.USCGboating.org.