As the school year comes to an end and temperatures nearing 90 degrees, many people are putting on their summer gear and heading to the water. Boating is a common pastime in the Cobb County area – and the fun and excitement that comes with boating has many ready for the summer season. Unfortunately, even the best summer fun can lead to life altering accidents.
In 2015 Georgia saw 4,158 accidents, 2,613 injuries, 626 fatalities and $42 million in property damage all attributed to boating accidents. That’s a 2.3% increase in accidents compared to 2014, and a 2.6% increase in fatalities. Drowning was a factor in almost 80% of the known causes of death. And of that percentage, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.
As recently as February 2017, we heard about a boating collision at nearby Lake Allatoona that led to one injury and the death of two people. There are countless statistics that illustrate the seriousness of boating accidents, so it’s important to be conscious of boating safety. So as you prepare to create wonderful summer memories with family and friends, please be mindful of the following boating safety tips:
- Be mindful of the weather. Though being wet is part of the fun of being on the water, it’s different when due to the weather. Storms can create winds and unpredictable weather patterns that make boating unsafe. Be conscious of weather conditions before you go out on the water.
- Create a checklist. Many people do this with a car, and it is no different with a boat. By making a checklist, you’re ensuring that details aren’t going unnoticed and will help keep you safer on the water.
- Have a plan and share it. How many times has someone told you, “Let me know when you get there” or “I’ll call you when I land”? When traveling, it’s important that someone is aware of your whereabouts and your plans. It is no different on the water. It’s always a good idea to let someone know of your trip itinerary, such as where you’re going and how long you should be gone. Informing the marina of such information is a good idea as well.
- Always wear a lifejacket. A lifejacket is a seatbelt on the water. Just as many car accident deaths are attributed to not wearing a seatbelt, many drowning deaths are credited to not wearing a life jacket. Even a skilled swimmer can suffer from a cramp or unexpected water conditions that affect their swimming skills. Always wear a lifejacket and avoid the risk.
- Be confident in your swimming. Knowing how to swim is extremely important when being in the water. If you would like to learn or become a better swimmer, check your area for swimming lesson being offered. The YMCA regularly offers classes, for example.
- Avoid alcohol. Many people assume that alcohol-related accidents are only common on roadways, but that’s not true. In fact, alcohol is the leading factor in boating deaths. Avoid alcohol and ensure responsibility and safety for all when on the water.
- Understand the boat. Along with those statistics from 2015, 71% of deaths occurred on a boat in which the operator had not received proper instruction. Boating courses are extremely important and can be the difference between life and death. Being confident and understanding the water will help prevent accidents for all.
By following these tips, we hope you changes of being involved in a boating accident will be reduced. Jones & Swanson wishes everyone a happy and safe summer season. We’ll see you on the water!