Oh Buoy! How to Ensure Safety While Boating This Summer
May 23, 2019
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
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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