Boating is a truly rewarding hobby, but it is also a big responsibility. We talk about safety on the water a lot on this blog, but that’s because it is so, so important!
A recent article from the Laurel Outlook reports a somber truth that boaters understand all too well. According to the article, the vast majority of boating accidents are avoidable. The article stresses the importance of exercising extreme caution when out on the water, and outlines what happens when boaters do not:
“The U.S. Coast Guard reported 672 boating fatalities nationwide in 2010, and 4,604 accidents. Of the fatalities, about 75 percent drowned, and of those, roughly 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.
In Montana, of the 44 boating fatalities in the past seven years, 29 involved individuals who were not wearing a life jacket.”
According to the article, operater “inattention”, in addition to speeding, alcohol use and mistreatment of boating equipment resulted in about $35 million dollars in damage in 2010.
Along with working flares, boating safety organizations recommend that water vessels are equipped with water-activated emergency radio beacons, a device that emits a signal indicating the location of a distressed boat. Boat captains should never be under the influence of alcohol, and should stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion. There should be at least one life jacket onboard for every passenger, and speed limits should be observed.
It is also recommended that all boats are equipped with an onboard radio, which would enable boat passengers to stay on top of rapidly-changing weather conditions. It’s also extremely important that all boat owners complete some sort of safety training, and that they know how to react safely should a rapid weather change occur.
For more information on boating safety protocols in your region, contact your regional municipality. And remember; always take extreme cautions when on the water. A little bit of careful planning can avoid unnecessary tragedy.