Boat Smart. Boat Safe. Wear It! May 20-26, 2006 is National Safe Boating Week. The theme for this year's North American Safe Boating Campaign is "Boat smart. Boat safe. Wear it!"
More than 70,000,000 Americans enjoy recreational boating each year. Annual boat registrations have increased steadily from just over 10 million in 1988 to nearly 12.8 million in 2004. During this same time period, boating-related fatalities have decreased, due in part to increased use of life jackets, or personal flotation devices (PFD).
In 2004, 3,363 persons were reported injured and 676 died in boating incidents. Among those who drowned, 90% were not wearing life jackets. The North American Safe Boating Campaign wants to raise awareness and ensure that every person on a boat is wearing a life jacket.
-In 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 4,904 boating incidents; 3,363 participants were reported injured and 676 died in boating incidents.
-The number of drownings attributed to boating mishaps declined from 82% in 1990 to 70% (484 out of 676) in 2004. The remaining boating fatalities were due to trauma, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other causes.
-It is estimated that 431 lives could have been saved in 2004 if all boaters had worn life jackets.
-Alcohol involvement was a contributing factor in about one-third of all reported boating deaths.
Recent Progressive Insurance Survey Results
Of the respondents surveyed
-12% admitted to having fallen into the water on a slippery boat ramp
-7% got soaked while jumping from boat to dock
-15% ran their boat aground
-15% caught a line in their prop
Items Lost Overboard
-Fishing Gear: 39%
-Wedding Rings: 2%
Tips For Preventing Boat Injuries and Deaths
Wear Your Life Jacket While Boating
Life jacket use by all boat occupants can reduce drownings. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are now more attractive in appearance and comfortable to wear. When properly fitted, a life jacket or PFD can help to prevent a tragedy.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages While Boating
Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. Reports suggest that alcohol was a contributing factor in about one-third of all boating fatalities.
Complete a Boating Education Course
More than half of reported incidents in 2004 involved operator controllable factors. The primary causes of incidents are carelessness or recklessness, operator inattention, operator inexperience, and unsafe speeds. Boating education courses teach the regulatory and statutory rules ("Rules of the Road") for the safe operation and navigation of recreational boats. During 2004, 70% of all boating fatalities occurred on boats where the boat operator had not attended a boating safety education course.
Participate in the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Program
The Vessel Safety Check (VSC)Program is a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations promoting boating safety. These volunteer personnel check safety equipment and provide information about equipment purpose, safety procedures and applicable regulations.
For more information on the VSC Program, visit their web site: www.vesselsafetycheck.org