With warmer weather and a holiday weekend comes the desire to get out on the open water. Whether you own a boat, have plans to rent one or know someone with their own vessel, a marine outing can be a relaxing and fun way to spend a holiday weekend or just a lazy Saturday after a long week at work.
Unfortunately, every time you go out on a boat, you incur some risk of getting into a boating incident. Many times, boating incidents are only stressful, but they can also lead to injuries and even death in extreme cases. If you know the risk factors often involved in serious boating accidents, you can make smarter decisions while out on the ocean that could keep you safer.
2 causes account for almost 90% of all boating deaths
According to an analysis of boating incidents reported in 2019, drownings are responsible for 79% of all boating fatalities.
Another major cause of fatalities involves someone striking the propeller of a boat. In 2019, such incidents caused 35 deaths (another 8% of the total fatalities) and injured at least another 155 people.
What factors increase someone’s risk while on a boat?
Alcohol is another major contributor. In 2019, alcohol was the leading factor in 23% of the 613 boating fatalities that year. The skill of the boat’s captain is another concern. Roughly 70% of the boating fatalities reported involved an operator without proper safety instruction.
Although there isn’t always data on whether the people involved used personal flotation devices or life jackets, in cases with the data available, 86% of the drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
Harm reduction can help you stay safer on a boat
While it may seem less cool to ride on a boat while constantly wearing a flotation device, it is clear that doing so is in your best interests. No one plans to suddenly fall overboard, which means you won’t have time to grab a flotation device when changes in the boat trajectory lead to your falling into the water.
It’s also smart to talk to the person who plans to captain the vessel about their credentials and to monitor your own alcohol consumption and how much the operator drinks. With a little bit of extra care, you can drastically reduce the likelihood of you or anyone else on your boat getting hurt or dying during your outing.