Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue
With warmer weather just around the corner, people have begun planning their summer outdoor activities; for some, that includes recreational boating. In 2014, approximately 87.3 million adult Americans participated, at least once, in recreational boating activities involving powerboats, sailboats or man-powered vessels such as rowing and paddle boats.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015 there were 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Compared to the previous year, the number of accidents and deaths have risen to over 2%, while the number of injuries have fallen. Where cause of death was known, 76% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket. Reports indicate that in 71% of deaths that occurred on boats, the operator had not received boating safety instruction; while in 15% of the deaths that occurred on vessels, the operator had received nationally-approved boating safety education. “No matter the type of boat or boating activity you choose,” states Prince William County Fire & Rescue Chief Kevin McGee, “take the necessary precautions to reduce risks and stay safe.”
May 21 through May 27 is National Safe Boating Week. The campaign “Wear It!” promotes safe and responsible boating to include consistent wearing of a life jacket. “Wear It!” is a reminder that when on the water, unexpected situations can occur and escalate; wearing a life jacket will not only give you peace of mind in controlling an emergency situation but it can also save your life. In 2015, 22 children under the age of 13 lost their lives while boating; 12 of those children drowned; five were not wearing life jackets and were not required to do so under State Law. Chief McGee advises parents/caregivers, “When participating in recreational boating, protect yourself and your loved ones by wearing a life jacket; be consistent, be a role model for others, especially young children, and ‘Wear It!’.”
For more information on safe boating tips, visit the North American Safe Boating Campaign safeboatingcampaign.com, the National Safe Boating Council safeboatingcouncil.org, and the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division uscgboating.org.