posted Jul 31, 2012, 8:06 AM by G W Black
With boating season already under
way, NOAA and the National
Safe Boating Council are asking boaters, sailors and water enthusiasts to
remember important boating facts and safety tips when heading out on the water.
Your life could depend on them!
Did you know that:
- In 2011, 758 people died in 4,588
boating accidents. Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims
drowned. Of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket.
- 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 one percent of the
Earth’s surface. In 2011, 600 people died in lakes and rivers. In
contrast, 21 people died at sea.
- Only 11 percent of people died on
boats where the operator had received boating safety training. Knowing how to properly operate a boat is
- Alcohol use is the leading
contributing factor in fatal boat accidents. Alcohol was deemed a primary
factor in 16 percent of deaths in 2011.
- Adverse weather can play a major
role in boating accidents. In 2011, 54
people died and 114 were injured in 235 accidents where the weather was a
- 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. Twenty-five people died in 2011 when winds
were greater than 25 mph; 352 people died when winds ranged between 0 and 6
- 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. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be okay if you’re
thrown overboard into warmer waters.
So, before you go out on the water:
- Know your risk: Be familiar with the body of water you
want to boat in. Learn the rules of boating by taking a safe
boating course. Download
the nautical charts you’ll need for your excursion. Check the marine weather forecast before
going out on the water; weather can change quickly, so plan for all types of
- Be prepared: Make sure your vessel has the required
equipment such as life jackets, a first aid kit and an emergency beacon.
Develop an emergency plan that includes more than one way to get your boat out
of trouble. Create a float
plan, and tell a friend or family member when and where you’ll be boating—
including the day and time you will return. Buy a NOAA Weather Radio and
pay close attention to marine watches, warnings and advisories.
- Be an example: Share safe
boating tips with your friends, family, co-workers and your social
media network. Remind everyone of the importance of wearing a life jacket and
taking a safe boating course. The information you share might just save lives.
To learn more, visit the National
Safe Boating Council and National Weather Service
Marine Forecasts web pages.