Boat Safety

Boat Safety

When boat safety precautions are followed, boating can be a safe and enjoyable activity for people of all ages. Most boating accidents are preventable when boat safety measures are taken. 

According to the National Coast Guard, more than 5,700 boating accidents were reported in 2002 alone. These boating accidents resulted in 750 fatalities, more than 4,000 injuries, and over $39 million in property damage. These are some boat safety tips.

1.  Always check the boat and environmental conditions before a trip.  Before any voyage, the boat equipment, boat balance, engine, and fuel supply should be checked.

After fueling, one should always ventilate before starting the boat engine. Check the weather forecast and bring a portable radio onboard to check the weather later. The conditions of the water through which you plan to travel should also be checked. 

2.  Pack and use safety gear. The federal law states that these items must be aboard most water crafts: life jackets (PFDs), fire extinguishers, ventilation, a whistle, bell, and/or horn, backfire flame arrester, and visual distress signals.

These items are required for personal and boat safety reasons. Wearing a life jacket at all times is extremely important for boat safety. 

Seventy percent of all fatal boat accident victims drown. A boat should also be packed with extra safety gear such as flashlights, batteries, matches, map, flares, sunscreen, and first aid kit. These should be sealed in a watertight container. 

3. Learn distress signals. In addition to having the equipment it is important to know how and when to use different distress signals. 

This is important to boat safety not only to protect yourself, but also to better communicate with other vessels and to help any other party that may be in need. 

4.  Know load capacity. Over 70 percent of all fatal boating accidents are the result of capsizing and falls overboard. 

Therefore, it is important to take every precaution not to tip the boat or fall over. Overloading or unbalanced loads can easily compromise boat safety.

It is also recommended that passengers stay low when moving about a watercraft and remain aware of their surroundings to reduce the risk of falling overboard. 

5.  Stay sober.  Nearly forty percent of all fatal boating accidents are alcohol related. 

Drinking not only impairs your ability to properly operate and control a watercraft, it also makes it harder for the body to stay warm should they go overboard. The laws on boating under the influence are very similar to those for operating a car intoxicated. 

6.  Be educated and aware. Operator inattention, careless boat operation, inexperience, and excessive speed are the leading reported causes of boat accidents.

It is important to pay attention to waterways and to follow boat safety precautions at all times. A boating course can also be extremely beneficial. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident or you would like to learn more about boat safety, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney in your area.

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