With spring in full bloom and summer just on the horizon, prime boating season is upon us. And you might notice more people on the water than ever, because sales of recreational boats have been growing at a steady clip for seven consecutive years now, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Fortunately, the number of boating accidents isn’t growing at the same pace—in fact, they are decreasing. In 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available, accidents were down nearly 4% versus 2016; fatalities dropped by more than 6%, and injuries by over 9%.
That’s great news, but in order to make sure those numbers keep moving in the right direction, boaters need to keep making safety a priority. We’re here to help: Just in time for National Safe Boating Week May 18-24, we’ve compiled some tips for anyone who’s about to climb aboard.
Choose the right types (and sizes) of life jackets—and make sure everyone wears them.
There are different types of life jackets for various activities, such as vest-type jackets for calm, inland waters, offshore jackets with additional buoyancy designed for rougher water, and even some made for waterskiing, kayaking, etc. Think about what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be headed, and who will be with you, so you have the ones you need. (Click here for a great guide.)
Each individual on board (even pets) should have a life jacket that fits properly, and most important, they should wear it at all times—there probably won’t be time to throw one on when something bad happens unexpectedly. According to the Coast Guard, in most cases of boating-related drowning, life jackets were on board but they weren’t worn by victims.