Sail smoothly and safely into summer
It’s National Safe Boating Week
Boaters, sailors and water enthusiasts get ready: It’s National Safe Boating Week (5/21–5/27).
As Memorial Day weekend nears, the ceremonial start of boating season begins, bringing with it the increased potential for accidents and injuries. (Check out this YouTube video.)
Did you know that:
- In 2009, 736 people died in 4,730 boating accidents – 18 of those killed were children under the age of 13.
- Oceans cover roughly 72 percent of the Earth’s surface. Yet, the majority of boating deaths occur on lakes and rivers, even though they comprise less than 1 percent of the Earth’s surface. In 2009, 551 people died in lakes and rivers. In contrast, 70 people died at sea.
Knowing how to properly operate a boat is critical: Only 14 percent of people died on boats where the operator had received boating safety training.
When on a power boat, make sure you wear a life jacket.
(Credit: Safe Boating Council.)
- Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boat accidents; in 2009 alcohol was deemed a primary factor in 16 percent of deaths.
- Adverse weather can play a major role in boating accidents. In 2009, 74 people died and 119 were injured in 260 accidents where the weather was a primary factor.
- Rough seas and strong winds can certainly lead to boating accidents and deaths, but the majority of those occur in calm seas and light wind. In 2009, 27 people died when winds were greater than 25 mph, while 332 people died in winds between 0 and 6 mph.
- Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be okay if you’re thrown overboard into warmer waters. In 70- to 80-degree F water, it can take only a few hours to exhibit signs of hypothermia, such as such as exhaustion, slurred speech or unconsciousness. Alcohol consumption also increases your risk of hypothermia, which can be fatal.
- When it comes to boats, bigger is better: In 2009, seven out of 10 boaters who drowned were on boats less than 21 feet long.
When on a sail boat, make sure you wear a life jacket.
Before you set sail for a relaxing day on the water,
be sure to:
- Have your boat inspected;
- Check your local weather and marine forecast from National Weather Service;
- Ensure you have a marine radio with NOAA Weather Radio capability to receive late-breaking alerts and warnings;
- Make sure you and your passengers wear life jackets; and
- Steer clear of alcohol.
To learn more, visit the National Safe Boating Council and National Weather Service websites.
Posted May 21, 2011