Sink or Swim? The Dangers of Boating Season

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boat

With summer in full swing, the rivers, harbors andlakes of Illinois are filled with recreational boaters and sailors eager to navigate the refreshing waters and soak up the summer sun. However, it is important to be cautious as crowded waters increase the dangers of boating season.

Unfortunately, these fun-filled outings can sometimes turn tragic. In 2015, the Coast guard recorded 4,158 boating accidents. Those accidents involved 626 deaths and 2,613 injuries. Where the cause of death was known, 76% of the boating accident victims drowned. Moreover, of those drowning victims, 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

Unsurprisingly, alcohol was the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Other common causes of boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, faulty equipment and excessive speed.

What can boaters do to keep boating fun and avoid accidents? Below are some basic safety tips that all boaters and sailors should follow to avoid dangerous situations:

  • Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and most importantly, make sure that each person wears it!
  • Have one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and make sure it is properly maintained.
  • Keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure that no boating safety rules or precautions have been overlooked.
  • Abide by the boats capacity plate. Do not overload the boat with passengers or gear as this will increase the risk of capsizing.
  • Follow boat traffic rules.
  • Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation.

Boating accidents can occur on one of the many lakes, rivers or other waterways found throughout Illinois. They can also result in serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries with long-term financial, physical and emotional damages. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, call Woodruff Johnson and Evans to schedule a free consultation at (630) 585-2320 to speak to one of our attorneys or fill out our contact form.

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