2015-07-02 / Front Page

Boaters urged to use extreme caution during holiday weekend

Heavy boating traffic is expected this July 4 as thousands of boaters will be out on the water enjoying the holiday with family and friends.

However, approximately 500 people drown each year from rec­reational boating accidents.

“With more boaters spending time on the water during the holiday weekend, it’s very important to boat responsibly,” said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. “Many fac­tors contribute to staying safe while boating, such as always wearing a life jacket, boating sober, knowing navigational rules, and having a proper lookout.”

New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight, and styl­ish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. There are in­novative options, such as inflatable life jackets, that allow mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, paddling, or hunting.

“We want people to have a great time boating while staying safe,” Johnson continued. “There’s noth­ing more relaxing and fun than a day on the water with family and friends.”

The following safety tips were issued by the National Safe Boating Council:

(1) Wear your life jacket every time you are on the water. An ac­cident can happen very quickly and unexpectedly, so you must be prepared to help yourself and the passengers on board.

According to the most recent United States Coast Guard statistics, over two-thirds of fatal accident victims drowned. Of that number, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

(2) Know the nautical “rules of the road.” Knowing what to do when meeting, crossing, or overtaking another boat can prevent costly dam­age to your boat, personal injury, or even loss of life.

If you believe there is a threat of collision, you should slow down, stop, or steer away from the situation in question.

Always have a proper lookout and maintain a safe speed.

(3) Stay sober while boating. Op­erating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all states and is a violation of federal law.

An operator with a blood alcohol content of about .08 (equivalent to consuming five beers in one hour for the average 180-pound male) is 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than an operator with a zero blood alcohol level.

(4) Be aware of carbon monoxide. All boat engines produce carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, color­less, poisonous gas that can kill you in a matter of minutes.

Boaters are killed every year be­cause of improper cabin ventilation, poorly maintained equipment, and careless behavior.

You do not have to be inside the boat to be at risk. Boaters have died from exposure on the swim platforms of their boats and in other areas where CO exhaust may accu­mulate or be emitted.

The early symptom of CO poi­soning are irritated eyes, headache, nausea, weakness, and dizziness.

Use CO detectors on your boat, and stay off of the swim platform when the engine or generators are running.

(5) Take a safe boating course. Seventy percent of recreational boating accidents are caused by op­erator factors such as failure to pay attention, carelessness, recklessness, inexperience, excessive speed, and failure to watch for hazards.

For more information on boating safety, visit the National Safe Boat­ing Council at www.safeboating­council.org.

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