The Coast Guard released its 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics report Tuesday, revealing boating fatalities nationwide totaled 626, the third-lowest number of yearly boating fatalities on record.
In the Northeast, recreational boating deaths decreased from 47 in 2014 to 34 in 2015, which is the second all-time low for our area, the first being in 2013 when there were 33 recreational boating deaths. Thirty of the 34 people who died drowned and 29 of the 34 deaths were the result of capsizing or falling overboard. Thirty-two of the 34 people who died were not wearing a life jacket.
“National Safe Boating Week is the perfect time to check the condition of all your boating gear to ensure everything is in working order,” said Walt Taylor, recreational boating safety coordinator for the First Coast Guard District. “For example, ensure your inflatable life jackets function properly, flares and fire extinguishers are not past expiration dates, and strobe lights, personal locating beacons, and handheld VHF radios have fresh batteries.”
Some additional important boating safety measures that can save your life include:
- Boat sober. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Refrain from using alcohol or other impairing substances when operating boats or other watercraft.
- Always have a marine VHF radio on your boat, along with an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicator RadioBeacon) in case of emergency. Cell phones may not be dependable while out on the water.
- Be sure you are not operating a boat or watercraft that is beyond your level of knowledge and handling skill. Operator inattention, boater inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
- Take a boating safety course or get a free safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, www.cgaux.org. Afterwards, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing your boat meets Federal and State standards and in an emergency you will have the necessary safety equipment.
- Small boats and shallow water don’t make for instant safety. The 2015 statistics show that eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length, so small boats and shallow water can be just as dangerous as larger vessels and deep water.