• June 26, 2023
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What is the best way to minimize the risk of drowning while boating?

June 26, 2023

As the summer months’ approach, it’s time for some water fun with your boat or jet ski. There is a certain risk involved in operating watercraft; there are over five thousand watercraft accidents each year. Let’s look at some tips to minimize risk using watercraft.


Minimizing Risk for Recreational Boaters:

When looking at what is the best way to minimize the risk of drowning using watercraft, a good place to start is with operating boats. A boat is a small vessel propelled on water by oars, sails, or an engine. With nearly 12 million registered recreational boats in the US, lakes, oceans, and other waterways are densely populated. In order to protect yourself and other boaters this year, we recommend reviewing and applying these safety measures before you set out on open waters this year.

Make sure everyone wears a life jacket.

A common occurrence in boating accidents is victims drowning. Many victims of drowning do not wear life jackets. Insist that any guests on your boat, no matter how safe or sturdy the watercraft is, should be wearing a life jacket. Not only will this help keep their head above water, but it can also help protect them from hypothermia.

Use the right kind of life jackets for the situation.

All boats must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or V personal flotation device per person on the boat. Boats 16 feet or longer must have one Type IV throw able device as well. All personal flotation devices should be in good condition and have a coast guard approval number.

Never drink alcohol and go boating.

Alcohol use is the leading contributor to fatal boating accidents. They cause approximately 15% of deaths in boating accidents each year. Stay sharp when you’re on the water by leaving alcohol on dry land.

Take a boating safety course.

Only 13% of boating deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Visit for more details.

Put down the cell phone.

One of the top five contributing factors to boating accidents is inattention. Just like distracted driving on highways, talking, texting, and other uses of cell phones while boating is a growing problem.

Operate the boat at a safe speed and follow all safety and navigational rules.

Excessive speed and improper lookout are two of the top contributing factors to boating accidents. Make sure you understand the local rules and laws of the waterway and follow them closely. Take note of visibility, traffic density, and proximity to navigational hazard such as shoals, rocks, or floating objects.

Check the weather forecast and be prepared for it to change.

A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating.

Take action before a storm hits.

Storm and hurricane forecasts and warnings are issued by the National Hurricane Center. Boaters can get information from VHF marine radios, commercial radios and television stations and newspapers. As a boater, you need to be aware of the types of advisories and take action before a storm hits.

Use a carbon monoxide detector.

All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes. Remember, you cannot see, smell, or case carbon monoxide, so know the symptoms, which are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication.

File a float plan.

The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. That way, the proper officials can be notified if you don’t return when expected.


Minimize Risk While Operating a Jet Ski:

Another area where you can minimize risk using watercraft is when you’re operating a jet ski. A jet ski is a personal watercraft that a rider sits or stands on, not within, such as a boat. They are much smaller and lighter than boats, and therefore can often travel faster. Over 700 people suffer from injuries in jet ski accidents each year. Here are some ways to minimize risk while using a jet ski.

  1. Wear a life jacket. Just like operating a boat, you’ll want to wear a life jacket here. Regardless of whether you’re a great swimmer or not, the initial shock of an accident on a jet ski can still cause you to drown, which is why it’s important to wear a life jacket or some type of personal flotation device.
  2. Wear a helmet. Though a helmet may make your experience a little less pleasant, it will help your head in the long run, if you’re to get into an accident. You can never be too prepared for the unknown, even if there’s a small chance of it happening.
  3. Stay away from alcohol and drugs. Similar to operating a boat, it is a bad idea to use substances that will alter your ability to make good judgements on the water. We recommend that you leave these substances on the shore, and wait until after you’ve operated any watercraft to use them.
  4. Keep proper maintenance on your jet ski. Before you use your jet ski, make sure that you do a pre-ride check:
    • Fuel levels
    • Cables
    • Start the engine while you’re still on land


WebFirst Insurance, LLC offers recreational vehicle insurance to keep you safe while you have fun on vacation this summer. Consider choosing WebFirst Insurance for your insurance needs.


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