May 21, 2001
Safe boating tips for Memorial Day weekend and summer
From BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer boating season. It could also be a big weekend for boating accidents with 520,000 members of the nation's largest organization of recreational boaters.
It is estimated that as many as 50 people could die on U.S. waters in Memorial Day weekend boating accidents and many more could lose their lives before summer ends. "Most of these deaths could be avoided if boaters followed some simple safety rules," says Ruth Wood, director of the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety.
"Most boating accidents happen when someone falls overboard or [when the boat] capsizes, so life jackets are absolutely essential," Wood said. Nine out of 10 people who drown in boating accidents aren't wearing a life jacket.
Other safety boating tips from BoatU.S. include:
€ Don't drink and boat . . . alcohol is involved in many fatal boating accidents.
€ Don't overload your boat with people or equipment and make sure you have all Coast Guard required gear (i.e., lifejackets, flares, fire extinguishers) on board.
€ Get a weather forecast before you go. While underway, watch the weather and pay attention to changing weather patterns.
€ Keep a sharp lookout for other boats, swimmers or skiers and objects in the water while your boat is moving.
€ Have a working radio or cell phone on board in case you have to call for help.
The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety offers a free on-line course at www.BoatU.S.com.