Staying Safe During Boating Season

May 30, 2019 Injuries    Ohio Personal Injury

Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC

Boating can give you the opportunity to make exciting memories on the water with your friends and family. Now that it’s almost summer in Northeast Ohio, you can partake in boating adventures at a variety of places including Portage Lakes State Park, Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay, and Berlin Lake.

While boating is an enjoyable summer activity, it can also be very dangerous if certain safety precautions are ignored. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2017, there were 4,291 boating accidents that led to 2,629 injuries and 658 deaths.

If you’re planning on participating in boating season this summer, it’s important to familiarize yourself with all of the information listed on this boating safety guide so you can increase your chances of a fun and safe summer of boating.

If you or someone you love sustain an injury in a boating accident that was the result of another party’s negligence, consult our Ohio boat accident lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick as soon as possible. We can help prove liability and may be able to recover fair and full compensation on your behalf. Contact us today.

Why Do Most Boating Accidents Occur?

You may be surprised to learn that most boating accidents are not the result of poor weather or hazardous sea conditions. They usually occur during near perfect weather conditions when the water is calm and winds are light. The most common reasons for boating accidents include:

  • Operator inattention: Boat operators must pay complete attention to the boat, the weather, and their passengers. When they are distracted and fail to do so, an accident is likely to arise.
  • Operator inexperience: Operating a boat is not as easy as it looks. Boat operators are required to be well-versed in the basics of boating and know what to do in the event of an emergency situation.
  • Excessive speed: While it may be more enjoyable to go fast than slow on a boat, excessive speed does not give the operator enough time to react to dangers. Most waterways have speed limits that must be followed.
  • Alcohol use: Drinking too much alcohol and boating is never a good combination. Operators and passengers should keep their alcohol consumption to a minimum so that they don’t make poor decisions, which lead to serious injury or even death.
  • Machinery failure: It is the boat owner’s responsibility to complete routine checks of their boat to ensure it’s in good shape. Steering, mechanism, and motor failures can cause accidents.
  • Lack of safety equipment on board: There is certain safety equipment that recreational boaters must have on board. A lack of life jackets, a fire extinguisher, navigation lights, ventilation systems, and backfire flame controls can pose a severe safety hazard.
  • Violating water rules: When operating a boat on the water, there are navigation rules that must be followed. Violating them can lead to crashes with other boats or objects, making it important for an operator to know what they are and follow them to a tee.

What is a Float Plan?

A float plan is a written summary of your boating itinerary that you give to a trustworthy friend or family member who is not going on a boating adventure with you. The purpose of a float plan is to make them aware of where you are heading and when you will return. If you fail to check in or return as planned, a float plan can inform the U.S. Coast Guard or another rescue agency.

In most cases, a float plan includes information such as a description of your boat and an overview of where you are going, your proposed route, and your planned departure and arrival times. In addition, it contains a list of the operator and all of the passengers that will be on board as well as their address, phone number, and an emergency contact.

If you’d like to create a float plan, you can visit the Float Plan Central website or download the U.S. Coast Guard app. Once you create and distribute your float plan and leave for your boating trip, be sure to inform the individual who has it of any changes and delays. You should also let them know when you arrive safely.

What to Do If the Weather Gets Bad

The reality is that the water and weather conditions can change in an instant so it’s essential to be always be prepared for bad weather. If you’re boating and notice dark clouds, fog, an extreme temperature drop, and/or lightening, bad weather is likely approaching.

In the event the weather does get bad while you’re boating, slow down and shut all windows, doors, and hatches. Also, ask all passengers to put on a life jacket and encourage them to sit on the vessel floor near the center of the boat to keep it stable.

Your goal should be to make it to the nearest dock or sheltered water rather than continuing to boat and hoping that the weather improves.

Why Take a Boating Safety Course

The U.S. Coast Guard found that 81% of boating fatalities took place on boats where the operator did not receive any instruction on boating safety. If you own and operate a boat, it’s imperative to take a boating safety course. Boating safety courses can be completed online, in-person, or on the water and cover all aspects of boating safety.

Even if you consider yourself a boating expert, a course can enhance your knowledge and abilities on a boat. The National Safe Boating Council and BoatUS Foundation both offer boating safety courses. While some are free, others require a small fee.

Injured on a Boat? Contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick

Despite your best attempts to practice boating safety and protect yourself and your passengers, a boating accident may occur because of someone else’s negligence. Since boating accidents are often complex, it’s a good idea to reach out to our personal injury lawyers if you do become involved in one this summer. They know the ins and outs of boating laws in Ohio and can help ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today.

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