Boating season is upon us and as happens most years we’ll see an uptick in accident/injury inquiries to our Law Offices, particularly those in Wilmington, Morehead City, Jacksonville, and even New Bern.
According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,168 boating accidents reported in the United States in 2019, resulting in 2,559 injuries and 613 fatalities. While not all of these accidents involved injuries, it is clear that boating accidents can have serious consequences. It’s important to take steps to stay safe on the water, including wearing a life jacket, following safe boating practices, and avoiding alcohol. Taken from the same source, here are the most common attributed causes of boating accidents:
- Inexperienced boat operator.
- Operator inattention / distractions.
- Improper observation of hazards and risk assessment
- Excessive speed.
- Alcohol impairment.
- Mechanical failure.
- Bad weather conditions and or hazardous waters.
- Violation of navigation rules.
- Wave or wake force.
Here are some ways to ensure your boating experience is a safe one this summer.
- Wear a life jacket: One of the most important things you can do to stay safe while boating is to wear a life jacket. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, unexpected accidents can happen on the water, and a life jacket can help keep you afloat and save your life.
- Know the rules of the water: Just like driving a car, boating has its own set of rules and regulations. Make sure you know and follow the rules of the water, including speed limits, right-of-way rules, and safe boating practices.
- Check the weather: Before heading out on the water, check the weather forecast. Avoid boating in inclement weather, and be aware of changing weather conditions while on the water. High winds, lightning, and sudden storms can make boating dangerous.
- Have proper safety equipment: Make sure your boat is equipped with all the necessary safety equipment, including life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, and a first-aid kit. It’s also a good idea to have a GPS or navigation system, in case you get lost or stranded.
- Avoid alcohol: Boating and alcohol do not mix. Not only is it illegal to operate a boat while under the influence, but alcohol can impair your judgment and reaction time, making it more difficult to stay safe on the water.
- Take a boating safety course: If you’re new to boating or want to brush up on your skills, consider taking a boating safety course. These courses cover topics such as navigation, boat handling, and emergency procedures, and can help you become a safer and more confident boater.
- Stay alert: When boating, it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for other boats, obstacles, and changing conditions. Avoid distractions, such as texting or using your phone, and always maintain a safe speed.