Summer is here, and many Americans are trying to beat the heat by spending time on the water. Whether you spend your leisure time boating, kayaking, or water skiing, there are a few basic water safety rules that are important to remember.
The US Coast Guard reported more than 4,000 boating incidents in 2017. Those incidents resulted in more than 650 fatalities, approximately 2,600 injuries, and around $46 million in property damage. More than 75% of those deaths were due to drowning. 84% of the victims weren’t wearing a life jacket. Being prepared and using the right equipment can help you and your loved ones avoid boating accidents and injuries.
Life Jackets Can Save Lives
Even excellent swimmers need life jackets. If an individual falls off a boat or set of skis, they can become disoriented. They might even be injured or unconscious. A life jacket is designed to keep your head above the water so you can breathe. It also makes rescuing a fallen passenger much easier.
Life jacket regulations vary, but in Indiana all vessels must carry one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) US Coast Guard approved personal flotation device for each individual on board or being towed by the vessel. These personal flotation devices must be in good, serviceable condition and easy to access. If you are on board a personal watercraft, you must wear a personal flotation device. You can learn more about Indiana’s specific requirements here. Children should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water.
Make sure that life jackets fit everyone correctly. To test, make sure that the life jacket is properly fastened. Then hold your arms straight up over your head and ask another individual to grab the tops of the jacket’s arm openings and gently pull up. There should be no excess room above the openings, and the life jacket should not ride up over your chin or face.
Boat Accident Prevention and Water Safety Tips
It’s important to understand the boating laws and regulations for the area that you’re boating in. You can find Indiana’s Boating Laws and Regulations here. There is also an official Indiana Boating Safety course that can be taken online.
If you’re operating a motorized watercraft, you should know that combustion engines and onboard motor generators emit carbon monoxide. Do not operate the craft in enclosed spaces such as inside a garage. Always check to make sure that your equipment and personal flotation devices are in good working order before setting out. Keep a tool kit and first aid kit on board your boat in case of emergency, and be sure to let someone you trust know where you’re going and when you expect to return. Do not drink and drive a boat.
If you are water skiing or riding on a tube, make sure you know how to get up out of the water and how to use the tow rope. You should always have a spotter in the boat and both parties should know basic hand signals. Ensure that the towline isn’t caught in the propeller or wrapped around you before taking off, and make sure the propeller has stopped before climbing back onto the boat.
Stay safe this summer and don’t forget your sunscreen!
If you or a loved one has been injured while boating, contact the Schuerman Law office today. Schuerman Law has been working with personal injury claims for over 40 years. John Schuerman will compassionately advocate for injured individuals as well as their families while fighting for full compensation of their claims. Schuerman Law offers evening and weekend appointments in addition to home and hospital visits. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 1-800-274-0045.