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Tips for Reducing Boating Injury Risks

May 16th, 2024

As the unofficial start of summer approaches (i.e., Memorial Day weekend), millions of outdoor enthusiasts are anxious to get out on the water. Even so, every year, the enjoyment of boating is marred by accidents that could have been prevented with proper precautions and knowledge. According to research by the Coast Guard, more than 4000 boating accidents occur every year, hundreds of which result in fatality. In recognition of National Safe Boating Week (May 18-24, 2024), here are a few tips to reduce the risk of boating injuries while navigating the waters this summer.


Wear a Life Jacket

The most fundamental boating safety rule is also one of the most overlooked. Statistics show that the majority of drowning victims resulting from boating accidents (more than 83 percent) were not wearing a life jacket at the time they were found. It’s not enough to just have life jackets on board; ensuring every passenger wears a life jacket that fits properly is crucial for preventing tragedies on the water.


Complete a Boating Safety Course

Knowledge is your best defense against accidents. Completing a certified boating safety course is essential for both novice and experienced boaters. These courses cover many topics, including navigation rules, emergency procedures, and weather awareness, equipping you with the necessary skills to operate a boat safely.


Avoid Alcohol

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs isn’t just a safety issue; it’s also illegal. Most states penalize boating under the influence the same way they do DUI/DWI. Alcohol consumption significantly increases the likelihood of an accident, akin to driving a car while impaired. It affects judgment, balance, and coordination, all critical for safe boating. Prioritize the safety of everyone on board by staying sober when you’re at the helm. Even if you’re not the one operating the craft, alcohol or drugs can affect balance, mobility, and the ability to make safe choices, increasing your risk of going overboard.


Monitor Weather Conditions

Weather can change rapidly on the waters, presenting serious risks to boaters. Before departing, check the local weather conditions and continue to monitor them throughout your trip. Be prepared to postpone or cut your trip short if adverse weather conditions arise. Understanding and respecting the power of nature is a key aspect of boating safety.


Regular Maintenance and Safety Checks

Ensure your boat is in optimal condition by performing regular maintenance and safety checks. This includes checking the engine, fuel, electrical systems, and emergency equipment. A well-maintained boat is less likely to encounter mechanical issues that could lead to accidents. Additionally, make sure to have proper safety equipment on board, such as life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit.


Be Mindful of Other Boaters

Boating accidents often occur due to negligence or recklessness of other boaters. Stay alert and vigilant while on the water, watching for any potential hazards or reckless behavior. Maintain a safe distance from other boats and avoid crowded areas, especially during busy weekends or holidays.


Boating offers a welcome opportunity for enjoyment and relaxation. However, it comes with the responsibility to prioritize safety to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others on the water. By following these tips, you contribute to a safer boating environment for everyone. If you or someone you love has been injured in a boating accident caused by someone’s negligence, our personal injury attorneys can help you obtain any compensation you are entitled to. Call our offices to learn more.