Who doesn’t enjoy spending time on the water during the summer months? In 2021, more people than ever are reporting that this summer they plan to avoid crowds and minimize contact with others by vacationing in their personal RV, and towing along their boat with them.
But before you take off for the open seas or lakes, our safety specialists recommend signing up for a boating safety class. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers these courses in-person across the nation. Or, join the class virtually, with the whole family, in the comfort of your home. Not only will it help you avoid problems later on, completing the course may also allow you to receive a reduction on your boat insurance, depending on your policy and location. Learn more about the USCG Auxiliary’s educational offerings and find one that works for you at uscg.org.
So why take a course?
Good training makes for responsible boating and reduces risky behaviors on board. Both beginning and experienced boaters need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation.
The top five reasons for boating accidents are: 1) operator inattention; 2) improper lookout; 3) operator inexperience; 4) excessive speed and 5) alcohol use. Alcohol was the leading factor in most of the fatalities in 2019.
That year, drowning was the cause in 79% of boating fatalities. In 86% of these cases, the victim was not wearing a life jacket. Meanwhile, only 20% of fatalities occurred on a vessel where the operator had completed a safe boating course. The data shows, well-trained operators tend to abide by boating safety rules and know what to do in an emergency.
In advance of your vacation, also, consider having the Coast Guard provide a free vessel safety check. This can be done in-person or virtually. Coast Guard specialists will examine your boat to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations and provide helpful boating safety tips and recommendations.
Finally, think before you boat. Wear your life jacket, establish solid boating rules on board, and know your limits to prevent accidents, injury or death. Be safe out there and you will enjoy your time on the water.