Florida’s beautiful weather and boating–they just go together. However, boating accidents tend to tag along. In 2009, 3,358 people were injured and 736 died in boating accidents. Of those who drowned, 9 out of 10 were not wearing life jackets. As we go through National Safe Boating Week, review these tips from the U.S. Coast Guard:
Wear it. Everyone, on all types of boats, should wear properly-fitted life jackets, or personal flotation devices (PFD). By wearing a life jacket, you can dramatically decrease your chances of drowning while boating.
Don’t Drink. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, and is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. Not only is it dangerous to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it’s also illegal in every state in the United States. Passengers should also be aware of the risk from drinking while boating. 46% of all boating fatalities occurred when vessels were docked, anchored, or drifting. Due to sun exposure and heat, both operators and passengers are likely to become impaired more quickly, drink for drink, when on the water. So play it safe and avoid alcohol when you’re on a boat.
Take a Course. More than 7 out of every 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error. Boating education courses teach the rules for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, and can help boat operators keep their passengers safe.
Get a Vessel Safety Check. The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations. For more information on the VSC Program, visit their web site: www.vesselsafetycheck.org .
Know about carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that is emitted by all internal combustion engines, such as boat engines and onboard motor generators. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, but CO can kill in a matter of minutes, whether you are inside or outside of your boat. To avoid CO poisoning, be aware of the risk, ensure sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas.
Recreational boating is enjoyed by over 70 million Americans each year. It is a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. Doing it safely will allow great memories and prevent tragic memories.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in boating accidents, car accidents, motorcycle crashes and other personal injury matters. His Clearwater personal injury law firm — Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes — has been caring for clients since 1955. Benefit from their experience. Click here to schedule a free case consultation with Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes.