Safe boating saves hundreds of lives each year in the U.S. In 2019, the year of the most current statistics, 4,168 boating accidents led to 2,559 injuries and 613 deaths. Some 79% of boating deaths are due to drowning, and 86% of victims are not wearing a life jacket, even though 2 of every 3 who drown are good swimmers. Safe boating matters.
A life jacket goes a long way for safe boating
The myth is that most of these deadly boating accidents and deaths occur from young people drinking and boating. In fact, 66% of deaths occur with boat operators over the age of 35, where alcohol was not a factor in 77% of the deaths.
Unfortunately, 7 of 10 deaths occur when the boat operator has not had boater safety instruction. Thus, the importance of Safe Boating Week to remind boaters to brush up on safety procedures. Here’s a quick boating safety tip sheet.
You can check out the Safe Boating Week website, which covers special events (Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day was May 21), safe boating tips, how to select the right life jacket, cold weather boating advice and more.
But the simple fact is that wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is the most important life-saving strategy for recreational boaters. Gone are those bulging orange vests. Modern life jackets are stylish and less obtrusive. Check here for the best life jacket styles for you.
Follow USCG Navigation Rules
Smart navigation is another key element of boater safety. The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules are much like the rules of the road on the highway. They establish a consistent way to navigate safely and avoid collisions when two boats are crossing paths, are on course to meet head-on, or when one boat wishes to overtake another.
Since these are universally accepted rules, they should guide how you know when to defer to another boat, when you have right-of-way and how to communicate with other vessels.
Wearing life vests and following safe boating rules are vital to boating safety. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t say accurate charts are also essential.
We hope Safe Boating Week marks the continuation of a long, safe and enjoyable boating season for you in 2021.