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Capsized kayak

The profile of a typical U.S. boating fatality is:

  • Someone not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) falls overboard and drowns or…
  • A vessel capsizes and someone drowns or...
  • A vessel strikes another vessel or fixed object, and the occupants are fatally injured or drown due to injuries.

Collisions often occur because boat operators are not staying alert and keeping a lookout for other boats or objects, or are going a little faster than they should. Although some collisions happen at night when it is difficult to see, many occur in daylight hours on calm, clear days. About one-third of the time, alcohol is involved.

You also might be surprised to learn that:

  • Typically, victims drown even though there are enough PFDs on the boat. (Remember, you probably won't have time to put on your PFD during an emergency. Get in the habit of wearing it.)
  • The vessel is most often a small boat of open design, such as a jon boat, canoe, or other type of boat with low sides.
  • The victims are usually men 26 to 50 years old, who have been boating for years and likely know how to swim.