Amid National Safe Boating Week and Memorial Day Weekend, we are left reminded of the risks that come with holiday fun.
Memorial Day weekend is often when people take to the water for the first time during boating season, leading to a higher chance of an incident.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) reported over 4,000 accidents in 2021, resulting in 2,641 injuries and 658 deaths. May, June, and July had the highest death counts.
Safety measures such as wearing a life jacket would drastically reduce the number of deaths. Out of the 658 fatalities, 81% were caused by drowning. In 83% of drownings, the person was not wearing a life jacket.
Taking time to correctly equip a life jacket before setting sail could be a difference maker.
Life jackets are challenging to equip during an emergency. Loose-fitting life jackets can also increase the chance of drowning.
The USCG reminds people not to drink and boat. Alcohol was a leading factor in 16% of boating accidents in 2021.
Being intoxicated while operating a boat will result in a DUI or DWI.
The Coast Guard also recommends having a long-range communication device on board.
“When operating offshore where cellular phones are unreliable, the U.S. Coast Guard strongly encourages mariners to obtain and register a 406 Mhz EPIRB to notify search and rescue authorities as a last resort,” said Lauren Cefali, the search and rescue specialist at Alameda Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
Swimmers should be aware of rip currents when in large bodies of water. Rip currents are capable of submerging or dragging strong swimmers out to sea.
When caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until you are safely outside of the rip current.
More information on boating safety from the USCG can be found here.
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