Boating -- Have Fun, But Be Safe

As the snow caps melt away, flowers begin to blossom and chirping birds replace the sound of rain pouring outside, people pack away their turtlenecks and scarves and head to bodies of water to bask in the sun and engage in water activities. One of the most common activities summer recreations is boating. However, in the midst of summer fun, some people fail to take into account that operating a boat requires the same precautions and responsibilities as driving any automobile. The majority of boating accidents and injuries are related to alcohol intoxication, reckless and careless operation, driving at excessive and unsafe speeds, inexperienced drive and failure to use a look out. Alcohol use is the primary contributing factor to fatal boating accidents. Other types of recreational boating accidents may include:

  • Capsizing
  • Falling overboard
  • Collisions with another vessel or structure
  • Fire
  • Sinking, flooding
  • Explosions
  • Disappearance of a vessel or passenger

Passengers should also take precautions. Drowning is the cause of death in nearly 67% of all fatal boating accidents. In 90% of those drowning the person wasn't wearing a life jacket.

Kicking off the summer season, the National Safe Boating Counsel sponsors boat safety week every year right before Memorial Day weekend. The National Safe Boating Council represents over 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations committed to reducing boating accidents and enhancing the boating experience.

Some common safety tips include:

  • Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation
  • Make sure you have personal flotation devices that fit every passenger on board.
  • Make certain all navigation lights and radios on your boat work
  • Anchor - Make sure you have one and can properly use it
  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher that is charged and accessible; Also keep on board in a floating pouch containing maps, flares, a first aid kit.

Next year's national Boat safety week will be May 21 - 27, 2011.

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