The Fourth of July holiday is the highest-boating traffic weekend of the summer. The National Safe Boating Council, a lead organization of the North American Safe Boating Campaign, encourages boaters to be responsible at all times while on the water.
“Every time I speak with someone affected by a boating accident, I’m more motivated to share about the importance of responsible boating – and that includes always wearing a life jacket,” said Rachel Johnson, CAE, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in more than three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2016, and that 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
The National Safe Boating Council shares these boating safety tips for all boaters:
- Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. New innovative styles provide mobility and flexibility during water activities.
- Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with your local
S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure you have all the essential equipment.
- Make a float plan. Let family and friends know where you’re going and when you will return.
- Use an engine cutoff device. An engine cutoff device is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
- Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during your excursion.
- Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly a quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2016 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
- Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
- Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
- Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important devices in an emergency.
The North American Safe Boating Campaign unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates and is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.