Boat Safety Week in two words: Wear It!


illustration of people wering life jackets for Safe Boating Week

It’s National Safe Boating Week May 18-24, a good reminder to all boat owners and boat lovers to review boat safety best practices and to take the “Wear It” Life Jacket Pledge. And if your boat represents a serious investment, it’s also a good time to think about insurance.

Why are life jackets important? In 2017, the Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

Life jackets may not protect you against property damage, but they will help to save lives. But simply having life jackets on board is not enough – accidents happen too fast to access them. Being a good swimmer isn’t enough – an injury or water-logged clothes can interfere with even the strongest swimmer’s abilities. Another big objection is that jackets are too hot, too restrictive, or don’t look “cool,” but new, lightweight jackets are slimmer, cooler and less restrictive. Plus, as for the coolness factor – bicycle helmets didn’t look cool at one time, until they became a sporting fashion statement. Do your part to make life jackets cool.

The U.S. Coast Guard life jacket requirements for recreational vessels:

  • A wearable life jacket for each person must be aboard
  • Life jackets must be U. S. Coast Guard approved
  • Jackets must be proper size for the intended wearer
  • In good and serviceable condition
  • Properly stowed (readily accessible)

The Coast Guard puts out a brochure that talks about the different types of life jackets and how to ensure a good fit.

Before you take put any boats int he water, make sure you know the federal laws as well as any state laws that might apply. The US Coast Guard offers links and resources on boat regulations and laws, including federal and state laws, navigation rules, and more.

Talk to your independent agent about Boating Insurance

Do you need boat insurance? Your homeowners or renters insurance may cover canoes and small sailboats or powerboats, but larger boats require a separate policy. Talk to your independent agent about the coverage you do have and whether it applies to any boats that you have. Typically, liability coverage would need to be added as an endorsement to a homeowners policy. The Insurance Information Institute offers a good overview of boat and watercraft insurance, as well as safety best practices.

 

Drowning doesn’t look like what we see in the movies


drowning

When we head to the beach or the pool on the weekends, most of us do so with a dangerous knowledge gap. We have wrong ideas about drowning and our ignorance means we don’t always recognize the signs of a person in distress when we see them. We are conditioned by movies and pop culture to think that a drowning person would yell and wave for help and splash violently to get attention. In reality, drowning is a quiet, desperate event – so quiet that every year, children die in pools and water just feet away from parents or friends who do not recognize the signs of distress.

Drowning behavior is so similar victim to victim that experts describe it as The Instinctive Drowning Response. Mario Vittone is an expert on water safety and he has been on a mission to raise awareness of what drowning behavior actually looks like – his blog post Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning is a really eye opener and something worth sharing.

He describes the behavior as:

The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening. Drowning does not look like drowning

Here’s a video showing instinctive drowning response.

Drowning can happen in seconds. A more widespread understanding of what signs of swimming distress and drowning behavior actually look like would help to save lives. Help to raise awareness – why not share this post with friends and relatives – particularly parent of young kids?

See related posts on pool safety:
Swimming pool and spa safety issues and insurance coverage

Pool & spa owners: Minimize your risk with simple steps for safety

When wild animals decide to take a swim in your pool

Pool & spa owners: Minimize your risk with simple steps for safety


If you own a pool or a spa, you need to see this excellent video from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. It takes a three-step approach to minimizing the risks associated with pools and spas: steps for making a safer water environment; steps to ensure that your kids are safer; and steps to ensure that you are prepared should an emergency occur.