Although many Floridians in West Central Florida can enjoy boating year-round, water sports do increase in popularity in the summer months. Given that we are entering a time of year in which kids are out of school and more families are planning beach vacations, it is important to consider the risks of boating accidents and to learn more about preventing boating-related personal injuries.
Getting the Facts About Boating Accidents and Injuries
According to a news release from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, around 70,000 Americans engage in recreational boating each year. Many of those recreational boaters enjoy time out on the water on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Yet each year, thousands of boaters sustain serious injuries, and hundreds of deaths occur. The National Safe Boating Council reported the following statistics for 2009 alone:
● 3,358 people sustained injuries in boating accidents;
● Boating accidents claimed the lives of 736 people who suffered fatal injuries;
● 75 percent of fatal boating injuries resulted from drowning;
● 84 percent of recreational boaters who drowned were not wearing life jackets;
● Alcohol is “the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents” and in about 50 percent of all water-related deaths; and
● Around 70 percent of all boating accidents result from an operator error.
As you might suspect from those statistics, many boating accidents are preventable. It is important, especially when you are responsible for the safety of others, to understand the rules of boating and to take safety measures seriously.
Safety Tips for Boating in Florida
What can you do to ensure that you and your family members have a safe and enjoyable experience while boating? An article from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following safety tips:
● Ensure that everyone on the boat wears a properly fitted life jacket that is Coast Guard-approved. These are “widely available,” and they go a long way in preventing a deadly drowning accident.
● Do not use alcohol when you are boating. Whether you are operating the boat or are simply a passenger aboard another operator’s vessel, it is important to leave alcohol on the shore. As the CDC points out, “boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving.”
● Take advantage of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program, which is a free service to help ensure that all boats and water vessels are ready for the water.
● Learn more about boating by taking a boating education course. Given that more than two-thirds of all boating accidents result from operator error, having more boating knowledge can help to prevent a serious accident.
● Understand the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and its signs. CO is emitted by boat engines, but poisoning can be prevented with proper ventilation.
No matter what time of year boating accidents happen, they can lead to serious and even fatal personal injuries. If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in a boating accident, an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer can discuss your options with you for filing a claim for compensation. Contact the Valrico Law Group today.