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ABA Boating Safety Program

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Boating Safety - It Could Mean Your Life

In the most recent year with complete data, the US Coast Guard reports that there were 4515 recreational boating accidents in the U.S. and its territories in which 651 lives were lost and 3,000 were injured. Almost 71% of the fatal accident victims drowned, and of these, 84% were reported as not wearing a life jacket. Seven out of every ten boaters who drowned were using boats less than 21 feet in length.

BWI (Boating While Intoxicated) is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17% of the deaths. Operators with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent (for most of us, that means just one to three beers) are 10 times as likely to be killed in a boating accident as a sober boater.

What about the remaining four deaths out of every five? Additional contributing factors were operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed and other improper operation, improper lookout, poor vision, faulty equipment, inadequate safety systems and devices, limited or inaccurate local knowledge, and ignorance of basic rules of the waterway.

ABA encourages every boater to be serious about boating safety, starting with the proper kind and amount of boater training. Remember, a boating mishap or fatality often involves innocent people who share in none of the blame, but all of the consequence. As a responsible boater, the life you save may very well be someone else's. Remember, B E S A F E* - KNOW YOUR...

Boat

Equipment

Safety devices and PFDs

Alcohol limits

First aid and emergency procedures

Environment (area and weather)

...BEFORE YOU GO!

 * Source: National Safe Boating Council

Take a few minutes to browse through the headings in this important section.

Boating Pointers

The following helpful boating pointers are useful to boaters of all types.

ABA assumes no responsibility or liability for events that occur due to actions you or others on your behalf take based on the information given. You are proceeding at your own risk.

Attn: ABA Members - for more boating tips and pointers, click here.

Boating Safety Articles

Equipment and Emergency Preparedness

Telecommunications

Weather

Navigation and Boat Handling

Anchor Information

Chart Information

General Navigation and Boat Handling Information

Medical

Education

Maintenance

Alcohol and Boating

Miscellaneous

Boating Safety Quizzes

Using U.S. Coast Guard Information

The U.S. Coast Guard offers a great deal of useful and practical boating safety information including:

File a Float Plan

It is always a good idea to use the U.S. Coast Guard Float Plan that describes the details of your planned outing. It contains the who, what, where, when and how of your outing or trip. Simply fill out the form before heading out on the water, print it, and leave it with a person who can be depended upon to notify the local police, sheriff, Coast Guard station or other rescue organization, should you not return as scheduled. (Do not file this plan with the Coast Guard.) The information provided is considered the "minimum" information needed when filling out a float plan. Consider utilizing the back side(s) of these forms to provide as much detailed information as possible to ensure complete information is on hand in the event you should have a mishap.

Boating Accident Statistics

Read the latest recreational boating accident statistics as compiled by the U.S. Coast Guard to learn from others' mistakes. The information is available in Adobe PDF File format.

PFDs

Every member of your crew should have a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Personal Flotation Device . PFDs, they float you don't! Of the 519 recreational boating drowning deaths in 2000, the US Coast Guard approximates that 445 lives could have been saved if the victim had been wearing a life jacket. The following are guidelines for the care and use of PFDs:

  • Buy your own life jacket, and wear it. One size does not fit all.
  • Look at the label for size and weight limitations.
  • Try it on and check the fit. With straps and buckles secured, the life jacket should not slip over your head or cover your eyes.
  • Make sure the life jacket is Coast Guard approved.
  • Replace your life jacket if you find air leakage, mildew or rot.
  • Never alter a life jacket. It could lose its effectiveness.
  • Check your life jackets yearly for flotation and fit.
  • Wear a life jacket to set an example for younger children while increasing your chances of survival.
  • Make the Memorial Day holiday a gift-giving event - buy your boating children and (or) grandchildren a PFD fitted to their size at the beginning of each boating season. Children need special care because of changing size and distribution of body weight.

Children and Boating Safety

The U.S. Coast Guard provides great safety information for children. It has numerous online coloring books available that you can use to help educate your children on boating safety.
coastieCoastie the Safety Boat is an animated robotic cartoon character in appearance, and is very mobile. He has navigation and searchlights, a rotating beacon, a siren, an air horn, and eyes and eyelids that move meaningfully. He talks, plays music, and interacts with the instructor and the children during the presentation. He is painted bright blue and has decals promoting boating and water safety from many boating safety organizations. Coastie the Safety Boat teaches rules about what to do and not do in a water emergency situation.

Boat Safety Tips and Fun Boating Activities for Kids

Boating Safety and the Environment

Most boating safety information only includes direct threats caused by equipment failure, weather, alcohol, unsafe boating, or accidents. We think that boaters should also think about their family's health and safety from the perspective of environmental threats and clean boating activities. Visit our clean boating activities area to learn more.

Contacts

For more information on boating safety and boating courses, contact your State Boating Agency, Coast Guard District or call the Boating Safety Hotline (1-800-368-5647).

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) has a representative responsible for boating safety education in each state, Click here to find your state's representative.

To learn about the boating safety education requirements for your state, Click here.

Life is better with a boat! Watch the "Good Run" a short film directed by Academy Award winning director Wally Pfister, that celebrates memories made taking life's journey by boat.

 
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