The sun is shining high in the sky. You're sitting on a boat out in the open water without a care in the world. Sounds perfect, right?
One of summer's greater pleasures is spending time with family and friends out in the boat at your typical lake or beach home. However, if the necessary precautions are not taken, not having a care in the world may turn into having too many.
267 people died in 2014 in an operation of a boating vessel accident.
Here are some boating safety tips to remember while out on the water:
Leave the alcohol at home. There were 277 alcohol-related accidents reported in 2014 and of those accidents there were 108 fatalities—the most for any death-related category. It is legal to have alcohol on a boat; however it is illegal for the boat operator to drive under the influence. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a law that will more severely punish people who are caught boating while intoxicated (BWI) who have previously been charged with driving while intoxicated, saying the two are linked and these menaces should be kept off our roadways and waterways.
Don't go too fast. There were 282 accidents due to excessive speed in the water and 23 deaths related to this unnecessary behavior. It is of the utmost importance to go the required speed especially when in bay and docking areas.
Always wear a life vest. Whether tubing or just leisurely sitting about in a boat, wearing a life vest could mean the difference between life and death—you never know what kind of a circumstance you will be faced with. A Colorado woman died recently when her two-year-old son fell off of their houseboat and into the water. Chelsey Russell, the 35-year-old mother, jumped into the water to save her son. Russell was able to hold the boy above water for five minutes until a family member pulled the conscious child back onto the boat. Russell was pulled unconsciously from the water and died of heart failure. Neither were wearing life vests.
Never let an inexperienced driver take the wheel. Just like you would on the road, don't let someone who is too young or has little to no experience driving a boat command the wheel. There were 391 accidents in 2014 due to operator inexperience and 44 deaths to go along with it.
Always have a good lookout. This is a crucial operation when tubing or just cruising through the water. There were 431 accidents and 26 deaths because of an improper lookout in 2014.
Boating is one of the more popular leisurely activities, especially in the summer—one should handle this situation with respect, not ignorance. The dangers that can ensue from improper boating etiquette are no joke.
All statistics are courtesy of the 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety.