Boating Safety Week Highlights Steps To Avoid Accidents On The Water

In observance of Memorial Day weekend and the launch of the summer season, the National Weather Service has kicked-off a new campaign that offers a series of boater safety tips, which are designed to prevent injuries and accidents on the water.

The National Weather Service (NWS) announced it has partnered with the National Safe Boating Council to run a National Safe Boating Week campaign to promote awareness and resources, including tips for properly fitting occupants with life jackets, vessel checks and awareness of weather conditions before launching into the water.

The campaign was initiated after recent data from the 2020 calendar year revealed the highest rate of recreational boating accident fatalities in 23 years. According to NWS, the months of June, July and August 2020 saw a 24% increase in fatal boating accidents, many of which could have been prevented by the use of a properly fitted and sized life jacket.

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The marketing push has been running all week, touting a series of safety recommendations which include brushing up on boating skills and encouraging boaters to take a boater safety course before navigating waters.

Boaters are also being instructed to always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and to check your local state laws for when occupants must have the jackets on while the boat is in motion or parked. The campaign also provides information on the class of life-jackets needed for various waterways and how to properly fit a child or adult with a safety jacket.

Safety officials also want boaters to be aware of current and approaching weather conditions to prevent capsizing accidents, and to never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The safety tips and recommendations will be published online as well as broadcasted over public service announcements on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.

While the campaign is aimed raise awareness nationwide, some states, such as Florida’s Wildlife and Conservation Commission (FWC) have embraced the campaign, warning the number of boating accidents per year in the state are on the rise, with 836 recreational boating accidents in 2020. According to the FWC, the number of boating accidents in the state has reached a nine year high, soaring above the average 722 accidents recorded annually.

NWS states that in the U.S., the number of boat registrations drastically increased over the 2020 calendar year, likely due to many looking for new hobbies to embrace while restaurants and other indoor establishments were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NWS encourages both experienced and new boaters to download the free United States Coast Guard Boating Safety App, which includes information on how to find the latest safety regulations, request a vessel safety check, check your safety equipment, file a float plan, navigation rules, find the nearest NOAA buoy, report a hazard, report pollution, report suspicious activity, and how to request emergency assistance.

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