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Boat Safety

Boat navigating through the water

Boating is a popular way for friends and family to spend the day on the water. For the most part, it’s a carefree social activity – but there are many inherent risks to keep in mind. 

Safe boating comes from a combination of education, training, and experience. Continue reading to learn more about potential hazards and safety tips!

Boating Risks & Accident Statistics

Boating can be a dangerous activity without the proper safety precautions in place. In a recent study, the Coast Guard recorded over 5,000 boating accidents, resulting in 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries in 1 year. 

Safety experts encourage boaters to familiarize themselves with potential hazards that could occur while enjoying the water. Here’s what everyone should know!

  • When the cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  • When known, 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 12% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator was known to have received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
  • Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank are the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Boat Safety Tips

Follow these boat safety tips to prevent accidents and injuries! 

  • Always wear a suitable life jacket! The Coast Guard estimates that wearing a life jacket could have prevented 80% of boating fatalities involving drowning.
  • Ensure that the boat operator is trained with their boating license and thoroughly understands safety protocol and procedures.  
  • Familiarize yourself with safety and survival tips for staying afloat, cold-water survival, and hypothermia. 
  • Perform a vessel and equipment check before departing.
  • Complete a float plan and departure checklist before venturing out onto the water. 
  • Do not use drugs or alcohol while operating a boat.
  • Operate the boat at a safe speed.
  • Always have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator. 
  • Watch out for low water areas or submerged objects. 

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