700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Oh Buoy! How to Ensure Safety While Boating This Summer

May 23, 2019
Safe Boating

Memorial Day is approaching, which is traditionally the start of summer and the kickoff of “boating season.”  While I hardly consider myself a sailor, I do enjoy boating. My mom taught me to canoe and kayak when I was young and my children now enjoy canoeing and kayaking as well, and of course, they jump at the chance to go on a motorboat or wave runner if the opportunity presents itself. One thing that has been consistent among the generations of amateur boaters in my family is safety.

According to the US Coast Guard, 85 percent of all boating-related drowning deaths involve individuals not wearing a life jacket. It has been shown that lifejackets decrease the risk of boating related injuries and deaths by 50 percent. Most importantly, there is strong evidence showing that the use of lifejackets among adults significantly influences life jacket use among kids.

Another key element of boating safety includes avoiding drugs and alcohol when swimming or boating – even if you are not driving the boat. Drinking passengers are at risk of entering the water and drowning regardless of driver’s drinking behavior. This is because alcohol use causes impaired judgement, leading to high risk situations, dilates blood vessels, increasing the risk of hypothermia and it impairs balance and motor function.

When you head out on a boat this summer have fun, make memories and remember these important tips:

  • Wear your life jacket and insist that your children wear their life jackets as well
  • Do not use drugs or alcohol while riding in or operating a boat
  • Make sure the boat is in good working order
  • Check the weather – storms can move in quickly
  • Have appropriate safety equipment
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Take a boat safety course – The US Coast Guard estimates that 70 percent of boating accidents are caused by operator error
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Sarah A. Denny, MD
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Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, works as an attending physician in the Section of Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and as an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.