For some, a day on-board a boat will be slow and steady – for others, it may be fast and adrenaline-charged. Whatever your boating preference, all sun and sea lovers should agree on one thing: every single outing has to be safe and end without injury.
There were more than 11.5 million recreational water vessels registered in the U.S. in 2017 making for crowded waters. Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) tallied 4,291 recreational boating accidents in the U.S. that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries, and about $46 million of damage to property. Here in Georgia, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported 135 boating incidents resulting in 63 injuries and 15 fatalities.
The top five contributing factors in these accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure, and alcohol use. And, while alcohol use is No. 5 on this list, it is the No. 1 factor in boating fatalities. The DNR reported 189 arrests for boating under the influence in Georgia last year.
Awareness of these factors can go a long way to ensure your safety on the water, but it’s also important to know a few of the basic safety tips before you head out:
- Always pay attention to where you’re going and what your passengers are up to.
- Always make sure your boat is seaworthy. For example, look for traces of fuel or oil leaks, check your fire extinguisher, your steering, lighting and electrical systems, and, of course, make sure you have enough fuel to get you to and from your
- Always obey the signs! Like roadways, waterways use signs for safe navigation. Buoys and beacons provide navigation information based on their shapes, colors, lights, numbers and letters. These signs help you maneuver through special situations like shallow waters, heavy traffic areas, bridges and locks without colliding with other boats or objects.
- Always check the weather forecast. Conditions can change with little notice. Stay on top of watches and warnings with a VHF radio tuned to weather broadcasting frequencies used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Always travel with life vests as required by Georgia law. Be sure you have the correct number (one per person) and the appropriate type of personal
- Never ever operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Georgia, there are several options for online and classroom courses on boating safety, covering everything from bow to stern – including what you need to know before getting underway and how to get started in the water, navigation and safe operation, Georgia’s legal requirements, handling emergencies and more. Learn more about DNR-approved certification courses online at www.gadnrle.org/.
It’s important that we all take responsibility for our actions in the waters of Georgia. But even with the best plans and preparation, we cannot control negligent actions of others. If you or other passengers on your boat are hurt because of the negligent actions of someone else, give us a call at (770) 731-1447 so we can get you the compensation you deserve and hold those responsible accountable.
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