BOATING SAFETY TIPS
According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG): 76 million Americans enjoy recreational boating each year. More than 800 Americans die each year from boating accidents.
[sws_pullquote_left]77 percent of all fatalities on the water involve people who do not wear their personal floatation devices (PFDs). [/sws_pullquote_left]
More than half of all fatalities on the water are alcohol-related (this figure is likely much higher, as estimates are that only 10 percent of alcohol-related incidents are reported).
Young males are at greatest risk – men ages 20-39 account for the vast majority of boating accidents each year.
The USCG emphasizes the three keys to safe boating:
- Every boater should wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
- Alcohol and boating are a dangerous combination, and alcohol should not be part of the outing.
- All boaters should take a course in boating safety.
The USCG Nationwide Safe Boating Campaign emphasizes the use of PFDs and uses the popular cartoon character Snoopy from “Peanuts” to emphasize their importance.
If you would like to incorporate a boating safety message into your summer boarding safety campaign, the United State Coast Guard and your state Boating Safety Office can help. Contact the Coast Guard Customer Infoline at 800-368-5647 or online at http://www.USCGBoating.org.
WATER SKIING SAFETY
Don’t take unnecessary risks while water skiing. The following tips will help you safely enjoy this thrilling sport:
- ALWAYS have an observer in the boat. This is a legal requirement in many states. The boat driver cannot watch the skier and operate the boat safely at the same time.
- ALWAYS wear a Coast Guard approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) designed for water skiing. Ski belts are NOT recommended. Your approved PFD will help keep you afloat.
- Never ski in rough water. High waves or a choppy sea will prevent the towboat from maintaining a steady course and speed.
- Stay well clear of congested areas and obstructions. Water skiing requires a lot of open area.
- Don’t spray or “buzz” swimmers, boats, or other skiers. Such stunts are dangerous, discourteous, and could cause an unintentional collision.
- NEVER ski after dark. It is hazardous AND illegal. Any boat traveling fast enough to tow a skier is traveling too fast to navigate safely at night.
- NEVER water-ski while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Such activity is extremely dangerous because of the impairment to your judgment and ability to respond. A recent study conducted with expert skiers who were deliberately intoxicated indicated that even their ability to ski was dramatically reduced.
- Use hand signals between the skier and observer. Agree before you start what each signal means so there is no confusion at a critical moment.
Keep away from: Crowded Beaches * Docks * Swimming Areas * Rocks and Bridge Pilings
Most drowning occur within 10 yards of shore. Learning to swim and understanding water hazards can increase your chances of survival. Here are some tips.
- Never swim alone. Swim with a friend at all times.
- Swim at a safe place, preferably one with lifeguards.
- Don’t swim when overheated, tired, chilled or in storms.
- Don’t dive into unfamiliar waters.
- Learn basic water rescue and water survival techniques to assist drowning victims and to protect yourself.
- Learn CPR to know what to do after pulling a drowning victim from the water.
- Remember that alcohol does not mix with swimming.
- Most importantly, know your ability.
The Red Cross creed for lifesaving has four steps you should follow in sequential order: reach, throw, row, and go. Do not try the next step until you are sure that the previous step will not work.
- First try to reach the person. Use your hand, or anything else that can be held onto, such as a jacket, a belt, a rope, an oar or a fishing pole.
- Second, throw something to the person that will float such as plastic bottle, beach toy, spare tire, ball, picnic cooler, or a piece of wood.
- Third, if the victim is too far away, then you will have to go to the individual by using a log, an air mattress, a surfboard, a small boat, a raft, or anything else that you can row or paddle with your hands.
- Fourth, swim out and tow the victim to shore, but try this only if you are a good swimmer and trained in life saving techniques.