Many Georgians will be taking advantage of the warmer weather in coming weeks, including the use of boats on nearby lakes. As exciting as boats are, they can also be dangerous if the proper safety guidelines aren’t followed. USCG data reveals that someone is injured or killed in a boating accident every 2 ½ hours. In an effort to prevent as many of those deaths as possible, May 21-27 has been declared National Safe Boating Week. In observation of this boating safety campaign, we have compiled a few important tips for boaters:
- Life jackets should be worn at all times. Your chances of drowning while wearing a life jacket are 1 in 66. Those chances increase significantly if you aren’t wearing a life jacket: 1 in 11.
- Ensure that a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and emergency flares are stored safety on the boat. It is also helpful to inform all passengers of the location of these safety devices.
- Test your horn and boat lights prior to launching.
- Test the VHF radio to ensure that in an emergency situation, you will be able to reach help.
- Fill the gas tank with enough gas to get through the trip, plus extra in case of an emergency situation.
- Check the weather radar to make sure there are no unexpected storms coming your way prior to launching.
- Stock plenty of bottled water and sunblock on the boat.
- Do not operate a boat if you’ve been drinking alcohol or if you plan to do so while on the water. The effects of alcohol can be significantly exaggerated by the sun and other factors while on the water. Like driving an automobile while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law, so is boating under the influence.
- Do not overload your boat with passengers or gear. An unstable boat can lead to capsizing.
Approximately 63% of boaters consider themselves to be “very experienced”, but 56.9% of boating accidents are attributed to operator error, poor judgement, or inexperience. These numbers are frightening, as injuries as a result of a boating accident can be severe. We have witnessed many victims of accidents on the water whose lives may never be the same. The best way to prevent this type of injury from happening to you, or to prevent your own liability in a boating accident, follow safety tips first and foremost.