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Take Boating Safety Seriously | Daytona Beach Accident Attorney

Take Boating Safety Seriously

Taking a few steps on the front end of your boating trip, can help prevent serious accidents for you and your passengers.

When you go boating, you will encounter hazards and risks. The outcome of these encounters will be determined by your knowledge, skill, and attitude toward safety, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You can make a boating emergency less likely to happen by taking the proper precautions; but, it’s equally important to be prepared and know what to do if an emergency occurs.

Profile of a Typical U.S. Boating Fatality

Someone not wearing a personal flotation device or PFD falls overboard, over the side or out of the vessel and drowns. A vessel capsizes and someone drowns. A vessel strikes another vessel or fixed object, and the occupants are fatally injured or drown due to injuries. Collisions often occur because boat operators are not staying alert and keeping a lookout for other boats or objects, or are going a little faster than they should. Although some collisions happen at night when it is difficult to see, many occur in daylight hours on calm, clear days. About one-third of the time, alcohol is involved.

You also might be surprised to learn that:

Typically, victims drown even though there are enough life jackets on the boat. The vessel is most often a small boat of open design, such as a jon boat, canoe, or other type of boat with low sides. The victims are usually men 26 to 50 years old, who have been boating for years and likely know how to swim.

Minimize Risk of Boating Stressors

The glare and heat of the sun, along with the motion of the vessel caused by the wind and the waves and the noise and vibration of the engine, have a large impact on your body that you may not even realize. These natural stressors make you tire more rapidly when on the water—regardless of your age or level of fitness. Many boaters greatly underestimate the effect these stressors have on fatigue.

While perhaps not fatal themselves, stressors may weaken your body and mind enough to make the risk of an accident much greater.

Minimize Risk of Dehydration

A typical boating day in the summer causes your body to generate a large amount of heat. Sitting exposed in the sun increases your body heat. As you ride in a boat, your body automatically adjusts to the changing position of the boat. The exertion of this constant adjustment increases body heat.

The way the body rids itself of increased heat is by sweating. Increased sweating will cause dehydration if fluids are not replaced. Dehydration will make you more fatigued and more at risk for a boating accident.

The best way to minimize the risk of dehydration is to drink plenty of water — before, during, and after any water activities. A good rule of thumb while you are boating in warm weather is to drink some water every 15-20 minutes.

Minimize Risk of Accidents — Avoid Alcohol

Research has proven that one-third of the amount of alcohol that it takes to make a person legally intoxicated on land can make a boater equally intoxicated on the water. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, affects judgment, and slows physical reaction time. Most people become impaired after only one drink. Alcohol can reduce your ability to distinguish colors, especially red and green.

Alcohol impairment increases the likelihood of accidents — for both passengers and vessel operators. Always designate non-drinking boaters to operate the vessel and to act as an observer if your group plans to consume alcohol. Do not allow your skipper to operate if he or she is drinking. Alcohol is a major contributor to boating accidents and fatalities.

Minimize Risk of Drownings — Wear Life Jackets

Approximately 70 percent of all boating fatalities are drownings, and most of those fatalities could have been avoided. Ninety percent of drowning victims are not wearing a life jacket —drownings are rare when boaters are wearing an appropriate PFD. One of the most important things you can do to make boating safe and enjoyable is not only to carry enough life jackets for everyone on board but also to have everyone wear them!

For more on safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach personal injury attorney.

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