As days get longer–and eventually get warmer–more of us find ourselves out on the water. Following a few simple boating safety rules can help make this summer and many summers to come safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
The first rule of boating safety is a life jacket. According to The United States Coast Guard, in 2016 there were 701 deaths and 2,903 boating-related injuries, an 11.3 percent increase in fatalities when compared to 2015 statistics. Of the 701 deaths where the cause was known, 80 percent of those were by drowning and 83 percent of drownings occurred when the victim was not wearing a life jacket.
In addition to wearing a life jacket, the operator of the vessel should always have the kill switch strap attached to their person. In the event that the operator is thrown from the boat, this will disable the motor and make sure the boat comes to a safe stop.
While wearing a life jacket and being attached to the kill switch can help in the event of an accident, a better option is to take preventive measures to avoid an accident in the first place. Seventy seven percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had not received proper training on boater safety.
The Utah DNR offers an online boater safety course that is required for operators between ages 12 and 17. However, it is advisable that everyone takes a course as it’s required for all operators in several states.
Another rule that should always be followed by the operator of the boat is turning off the boat motor when around swimmers. In the breakdown of the 2016 coast guard statistics, 171 people were struck by props in 2016 resulting in multiple injuries and 24 deaths.
Much like using a land-based vehicle, operating a vessel while under the influence of drugs and or alcohol is never a good idea. Not only is it illegal, it was the cause of 282 boating accidents in 2016.
These are just a few general safety rules you should follow next time you’re out on the water and is by no means a complete list. If you are serious about boating and want to stay safe doing it, take the DNR course mentioned above. For a complete list of 2016 U.S. Coast Guard boating accident statistics click here. In addition to these boating safety tips and those found in the DNR boating safety course, it’s always a good idea to check local laws and regulations for boating. Happy boating!