Boating safety campaign continues this week as the season launches.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Office, Gaston County Police, North Carolina Wildlife, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, National Safe Boating Council and Canadian Safe Boating Council kicked off National Safe Boating Week on Saturday with the annual Ready, Set, Wear It! Life Jacket World Record Day.
According to the “U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Statistics: 2010,” available online at uscgboating.org, drowning was reported as the cause of death in three-fourths of all fatalities. About 88 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
In 2010, South Carolina ranked No. 4 and North Carolina ranked No. 5 for national boating deaths with 27 and 24, respectively.
North Carolina ranked No. 7 on the top-ranking states for reported boating accidents with 148.
More safety facts include:
• In 2010, the Coast Guard counted 4,604 accidents that involved 672 deaths, 3,153 injuries and about $35.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
• Only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
• Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of the deaths.
• Twenty-one children younger than age 13 lost their lives while boating in 2010; 42 percent of the children who died in 2010 died from drowning.
• The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46 percent), personal watercraft (20 percent), and cabin motorboats (14 percent).
National Recreational Boating Statistics
• Fatalities: 672
• Drownings: 484
• Injuries (requiring medical treatment beyond first aid): 3,153
• Boating Accidents: 4,604
• Property Damage: $35,552,283
• Number of registered recreational boats in the U.S.: 12,438,926
Choose the right life jacket
Today’s life jackets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. No matter which life jacket is chosen, be sure it’s right for you, your planned activities, and the water conditions you expect to encounter.
• Check the manufacturer’s ratings for your size and weight.
• Make sure the life jacket is properly zipped or buckled.
• Raise your arms straight up over your head while wearing your life jacket and ask a friend to grasp the tops of the arm openings, gently pulling up.
• If there is excess room above the openings and the life jacket rides up over your chin or face, it does not fit properly. A snug fit in these areas signals a properly fitting life jacket.
It is extremely important that you choose a properly fitting life jacket. Life jackets that are too big will cause the flotation device to push up around your face, which could be dangerous. Life jackets that are too small will not be able to keep your body afloat.
• Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
• Double-check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite boating activities.
• Take the time to ensure a proper fit.
• Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
• On recreational vessels under way, children younger than age 13 must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket unless they are below decks or in an enclosed cabin. Some state laws vary - check with your local Marine law enforcement authorities.
1. No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing sailing, etc. – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket. Drowning is the cause of death in approximately three-fourths of boating fatalities and approximately 88 percent of those who drown are not wearing life jackets.
2. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for all boating activities.
3. Take the time to ensure a proper fit.
4. Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to “grow into.”
5. On recreational vessels underway, children under 13 years old must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket unless they are below decks or in an enclosed cabin. Some state laws vary – check with your local Marine Law Enforcement Authorities.
1. Don’t drink alcohol while you boat. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of deaths. For more information on boating under the influence, visit OperationDryWater.org.
2. Know your state’s boating laws before you get out on the water. Rules and laws can differ from state to state and violations can result in ticketing, fines or jail time.
3. Make sure your boat is as prepared as you are. There are many items that need to be checked and re-checked on any boating vessel. Schedule a boat inspection before you hit the water.
4. Check the weather. Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out, and keep a regular check for changing conditions.
5. Keep in touch. Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency. Cell phones, satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons, VHF radios and personal locator beacons can all contribute in an emergency situation.