Simple Tips for Safe Boating
Michigan is full of great boating opportunities and after a long, cold winter, lots of boaters are eager to get back out on the water. But in all the excitement about boating season finally making its return, it’s important to not forget about some basic boating safety measures.
According the the U.S. Coast Guard, the number of recreational boating accidents in Michigan rose from 92 to 125 between 2013 and 2016 while fatalities grew from 21 to 38 between 2012 and 2016. And as paddlesports grow in popularity and bring more people out on Michigan’s waters, it’s very important that everyone take steps to make boating a safe and enjoyable experience for everybody. Before you bring your boat out on the water, here are some simple safety tips to keep in mind.
Don’t Drink & Boat
One of the simplest ways to prevent boating accidents is to say no to alcohol if you’re the one who will be operating the boat. Just as alcohol degrades your driving skills by slowing down your reaction times and impairing your judgement, alcohol also makes it more difficult for you to safely operate a boat. In 2017, the U.S. Coast Guard found alcohol to be the leading factor in 19% of boating fatalities.
Improper lookout and operator inattention are two other very common causes of boating accidents. When you’re operating a boat, it’s extremely important that all of your attention be focused on that. So many boating accidents occur because something went overlooked, so be sure to stay aware of your surroundings and make sure you maintain a lookout.
Check the Weather & Water Conditions
Weather during the summer months can often be very unpredictable. Sometimes, a day that starts out looking like a beautiful, ideal day to spend on the water can quickly be interrupted by storms later on. Before heading out on your boat, be sure to check the weather forecast and don’t ignore any severe weather warnings. It’s also a good idea to check the conditions of the water first, too. Hazardous waters were cited as a contributing factor in 187 boating accidents in 2017.
Watch Your Speed
Another one of the simplest ways to prevent accidents is to avoid speeding. Every year, excessive speed leads to hundreds of boating accidents. The U.S. Coast Guard defines “excessive speed” as being a speed that which a reasonable and prudent person would have operated under the conditions that existed. They also note that this doesn’t necessarily mean traveling at a speed higher than a posted speed limit. It’s not always easy to accurately judge the conditions around you and when you’re traveling too fast, you have less time to react to sudden changes.
Wear a Life Jacket at All Times
The numbers don’t lie: life jackets save lives. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 84.5% of all people who drowned as a result of a boating accident were not wearing a life jacket. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to think they don’t need to wear a life jacket because they’re good swimmers or because they don’t plan on going into the water. But in the event of a boating accident, it’s very easy for people to end up in the water before they even have a chance to put a life jacket on. And if the water is cold or the conditions are rough, even highly experienced swimmers can have a very difficult time staying afloat for an extended amount of time.
If precautions aren’t taken, it’s very easy for a fun day on the water to quickly turn tragic. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, don’t hesitate to contact a boating accident lawyer as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Goodwin & Scieszka, we have lawyers who are experienced in working with the victims of Michigan boating accidents. Contact us today for help with your case.