How Can You Prevent Boating Accidents and Casualties This Summer?

Posted on 12th June, 2024

How Can You Prevent Boating Accidents and Casualties This Summer?

A juvenile survived a solo boat crash on Saturday in San Joaquin, California, which left two adults deceased. According to the Sheriff's office, the cause of the accident is still unknown. Our hearts and prayers go out to the young one and the surviving family members. May they draw comfort from one another during this time.

Such a tragic accident is a sobering reminder that boating, although fun, can be dangerous and even deadly. The accident above wasn't the first of the year, nor will it be the last. Every year, the Coast Guard runs statistics and reports revealing the count of boating accidents and the suspected causes.

For example, in 2023, the Coast Guard counted 3,844 accidents that involved 564 deaths, 2,126 injuries, and approximately 63 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

We at OZLaw want everyone to have a fun and safe summer on California's waterways. Therefore, we encourage boat owners to take the time to ensure their boats are mechanically sound and that they are aware of safety guidelines all boaters must follow.

Essential Boating Safety Tips to Consider Before This Summer

Check The Weather - Always make sure to check your local news or weather forecast beforehand. Although California summers are usually predictable, this is a safe practice to follow and will aid you in your preparations if you notice that there is a chance the weather may take a turn.

Pre-Departure Itemized Checklist - You may have a great memory. Still, with the excitement of getting out on the water and the distractions of family and friends, it can be easy to forget important items or necessities for the safety of those who will be aboard your boat. A pre-departure itemized checklist should contain vital maintenance and safety items you may need on the waterways. Be aware of what your Pre-Departure Checklist should contain.

Use Common Sense - Sadly, reports show that many boating accidents and casualties have occurred due to a lack of common sense or experience. For example, many of California's lakes, rivers, and marinas are marked with buoys and markers that are provided for safety; boat operators need to be mindful of these and adhere to them. In addition, when in crowded areas such as popular beaches, it is wise to travel at a safe speed to scan the waters for swimmers or objects carefully.

Designate a First Mate or Skipper - Make sure you have a designated passenger aboard who knows how to drive the boat, is familiar with boating safety practices, and is confident enough to get your crew safely to shore if anything happens to you.

Float Plan - Searches for an overdue boat have a greater chance of success if the U.S. Coast Guard or other rescue agencies have access to specific facts. A Float Plan is an itinerary you can create for your whereabouts at sea or on the waters. It would include a detailed description of your vessel and the details of your planned return.

If you're traveling by yourself, it is highly advised to make one of these and give a copy to a family member, friend, or trusted land-based contact. This ensures that if anything happens to you or your vessel, help and assistance can be initiated before it is long overdue. Float Plans have helped save many lives in boating accidents.

Life Jackets - Most drowning victims, due to boating accidents, could have survived if they were wearing life jackets. A boat should have enough life jackets that are the APPROPRIATE size for each person traveling onboard.

California requires all children under 13 to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while on board a vessel that is 26 feet or less. In addition, anyone being towed behind a boat, such as skiing, and anyone riding a personal watercraft, such as an inflatable tube, must be wearing a life jacket.

No Alcoholic Beverages - It is thought of as an American custom to enjoy an ice-cold brew by the water. However, just like it is illegal to drink and drive on the roadways of California, it is unlawful to operate a boat while drinking an alcoholic beverage. In the 2023 report, alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents being listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.

Know How To Swim - Everyone on board a boat has a risk of potentially falling overboard. Even with life jackets at hand, it is a good idea that everyone knows how to swim if they are going to go on a boat.

The city of Sacramento offers swim classes for all ages and teaches lessons in general water safety. These lessons follow information provided by the American Red Cross and other Learn-To-Swim programs. If you are interested in lessons, you can register too.

Take A Boating Safety Course - California provides a variety of boating safety classes wherein boaters can obtain a 'Boater Card.' Although this was an optional item that encouraged boaters to be educated in safety in the past, in 2018, it began to become a requirement. At the start of 2023, all boaters 50 years of age or younger were required to carry a 'Boater Card,' and by 2025, all boaters, regardless of age, will be required to obtain the card. This new law provides more information that you can check. Such safety classes can provide any inexperienced boat operator with the knowledge and confidence to operate and enjoy the experience of owning a boat.

For a fun and safe boating experience this summer, always prioritize safety and preparedness. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, hiring an experienced injury lawyer can make all the difference. Contact O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm for expert advice and support.