National Safe Boating Week 2013 is here! It is no coincidence this week, focused on educating boaters about the latest safe boating practices, takes place in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the recreational boating season. Many Americans will be visiting our nation’s lakes, rivers and coasts for the first time in months and should keep safety at the forefront of their plans.
Even though the summer months are already upon us, there is still time to enroll in a safe boating course. These courses are offered nationwide and equip boaters at all skill levels and ages with the skills and knowledge to be safe on the water. Boating safety courses can teach you everything from required and recommended safety equipment to more advanced boat handling skills and navigation principles.
Boaters should also keep an eye out for the men and women of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks at various locations nationwide, including boat ramps and marinas. The vessel safety check is a courtesy examination to see if a boat is properly equipped for an emergency.
2012 recreational boating statistics reveal boating fatalities last year totaled 651, the lowest number of boating fatalities on record. Despite this decreasing trend in fatalities, the data is still alarming. Alcohol was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was the leading factor in 17 percent of the deaths. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed also ranked as the top five primary contributing factors.
Almost 71 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, with 84 percent of those victims not reported as wearing a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket is one of the most effective and simple life-saving strategies for safe boating, and when you are on or near the water you can do your part to keep yourself and your family safe be wearing your life jacket. Coast Guard approved life jackets come in many shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that is comfortable and stylish without sacrificing safety.
Whether you plan to spend the summer sailing, kayaking or just relaxing on the lakefront, it is important to educate yourself on safe boating. There are countless resources available for all boaters to ensure they are safe and responsible on the water, and we look forward to sharing more information on how to make recreational boating safer for everyone in the upcoming weeks. You can check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter as we continue to share information on float plans, electronic position indicating radio beacons, the dangers of boating under the influence and much more.