With 12 million registered vessels and countless kayaks and wakeboards nationwide, going out on the open water is popular with enthusiasts throughout the United States. However, without thorough preparation, enjoyment of the open water can lead to potential tragedies.
The U.S. Coast Guard released highly troubling statistics from 2021 with early 4,500 incidents tragically led to the following:
- 658 deaths
- 2,641 injuries
- $67.5 million in property damage
The need for life jackets
Even the best swimmers can fall off the boat can suffer from disorientation. More severe falls can lead to injury or unconsciousness. The least expensive and most easily accessible boating accessories are life jackets to prevent potential tragedies.
These all-important floatation devices are of paramount importance before getting into a vessel and traveling. Additional data reveals 81 percent of deaths result from drowning. Tragically, eighty-three percent were not wearing the flotation device.
Alabama law requires all boats operating on waterways to have one wearable, properly fastened Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device for everyone on board, including operators, particularly children. They must also be in good condition and fit correctly.
Additional safety steps
Before embarking, ensure all equipment is in good operation, and a first aid kit is onboard and quickly accessible. Also, check for the potential of bad weather. Leave behind a float plan with a family member or friend. Also, dress appropriately for the elements and also have a second set of clothes in case of a mishap.
While on the boat, particularly when family members and children are on board, avoid alcohol consumption as it can affect vision, balance, and coordination.
Proactive steps can save lives, particularly when it comes to water travel.