How to Avoid a Boating Accident
Spending a day with your friends and family on your boat is a wonderful way to spend a nice summer afternoon. Boating may be fun, but there are dozens of ways it can go horribly wrong. Ultimately, boating is only as safe as you make it, so before you head back out on the water, make sure you aren’t setting things up for a tragic ending.
Always Wear a Life Jacket
The top cause of death in recreational boating accidents is drowning. 47% of boating fatalities are caused by falling overboard and 86% of all the people who drown as a result of a boating accident were not wearing a life jacket. In the majority of those cases, the person who drowned ended up in the water unexpectedly, so there was no time for them to be able to put one on before getting in the water. No matter how good of a swimmer a person thinks they are, it’s easy to be overwhelmed if they unexpectedly end up in deep water.
Enjoy Alcohol Responsibly
Just like you’re not allowed to drive your car if you’re under the influence of alcohol, you can’t operate a boat if you’ve been drinking. Alcohol consumption by the boat operator is responsible for 28% of all boating accidents and over half of all boating fatalities. Boating under the influence (BUI) is a crime and if you wouldn’t drive your car after having a certain amount of drinks, you shouldn’t be operating a boat, either.
All passengers on the boat need to enjoy alcohol in moderation as well. When passengers overindulge in alcohol, it increases the likelihood of risky behavior on the boat, which can easily lead to someone falling overboard.
Watch the Weather
The weather may have been nice when you set sail, but that can change very quickly. If there’s a chance you might encounter some inclement weather while out on the water, it’s best to stay ashore. If you find yourself caught in some bad weather while you’re already out on the water, do your best to get to safety without doing anything risky like speeding.
Excessive speed is a factor in about 7% of all boating accidents. When you travel too fast, you are less capable of seeing hazards coming up ahead of you and have less time to react appropriately. You also have to remember that boats don’t have brakes like cars do, so if you suddenly need to stop or change direction, you can’t stop as quickly as you could with a car.
Always Be Attentive
In many cases, boating accidents are caused by simple inattention. If you’re operating a boat, you have to give your undivided attention to the boat and everything that’s going on around you.
Take a Boating Safety Class
One of the most effective ways to prevent boating accidents is by practicing responsible boating behaviors. If it’s been a while since you last took a boating class, there’s no harm in taking another one to refresh your memory. Your boat insurance company might even give you a discount if you take boating safety classes.