This week (May 16 – 22) is National Safe Boating Week and the ASA encourages active sailors to take it to heart. As the season enters prime time it’s good to be reminded that there is a major safety component in the context of this sport. In all the fun, it’s possible to overlook safe practices.
Of course the big one is to wear a life jacket. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. That is an incredible stat. Sounds like it’s a great idea to wear life jacket – don’t even think about sailing solo without one..
Another good idea the Safe Boating Council suggests is seeking out boating education, which of course the American Sailing Association both endorses and provides. Obviously having a better understanding about anything you do will make it a safer endeavor, but in the realm of sailing it’s crucial.
Lastly, lay off the booze. The water is a wonderful place to kick back and relax but boating and boozing can be a dangerous recipe. Being on the water is an inebriant all on its own, so stick to that if you’re at the helm. Statistically, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; last year it was listed as the leading factor in 21 percent of the deaths. Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use ranked as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
So, let’s put safety in the forefront of our sailing thoughts and intentions these next seven-days and try to imprint good practices to see us through a year with no problems. Fair winds!