Boating Emergencies: Accidents and Fatalities in the U.S.
When you go boating, you will encounter hazards and risks. The outcome of these encounters will be determined by your knowledge, skill, and attitude toward safety. It's important to make a boating emergency less likely to happen by taking the proper precautions; but, it's equally important to be prepared and know what to do if an emergency occurs.
Profile of a Typical U.S. Boating Fatality
- Someone not wearing a 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 Might be Surprised …
You also might be surprised to learn that:
- Typically, victims drown even though there are enough life jackets on the boat. (Remember, you probably won't have time to put on your life jacket 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.
Most accidents are preventable. Even accidents attributed to the environment most likely could have been prevented if the operator had not overlooked the warning signals, had not made poor decisions, or had the proper boating skills. Many accidents attributed to equipment also could have been prevented if proper maintenance and defect detection had taken place.