With summertime in full swing, another boating season is upon us. Unfortunately,
the increase in the number of boaters also increases the likelihood for
boating accidents and related injuries. The state of Florida offers safety
training and awareness programs to keep boating safe for everyone, but
accidents can still happen.
3 Common Boating Accidents and Best Practices for Prevention
Below is a list of leading causes for boating-related injuries and fatalities
along with recommendations for prevention:
Capsizing: This is the leading cause of fatalities from boating accidents. Many accidents
occur in twilight when light conditions and alcohol may both play a role.
Anchoring from the stern (rear) also exposes smaller vessels to an increased
risk of capsizing. Boats are designed to cut through water and swells
(front) first. A sudden gushing swell or rogue wave impacting the stern
can swamp the boat.
Prevention: Just like a car, boaters should always designate a driver if
alcohol is involved. Take extra care maneuvering and docking in twilight
and at night. If using an anchor, secure it from the bow (front) of the
boat, not the rear or side.
2.Improper Forward Watch: An accident can occur if the boater does not keep a watchful for anything
that may cross the boat’s path. Even when drifting or trolling,
striking an object at slow speed can spell disaster or send a passenger
overboard. Collisions typically occur due driver distraction.
Prevention: The driver of the vessel must keep eyes forward at all times,
occasionally glancing to each side to check for other approaching vessels.
Check in all directions prior to turning or changing directions. Even
with power off and the boat adrift, the driver must be aware of what’s
happening in the water surrounding the vessel.
Man Overboard: Rough weather/waters and maneuvering can send a boater overboard. Powerboats
turn with enough force to eject an occupant if he/she is caught off guard
or is not seated securely. When a sailboat turns, the sail’s boom
swings across the deck as it changes position in the wind and can easily
knock a passenger into the water and cause significant injury at the same time.
Prevention: It is best to keep everyone seated while a boat is in motion.
A good powerboat captain should ensure all passengers are secure when
preparing to turn. On a sailboat, protocol calls for the skipper to warn
occupants of an impending turn by calling out: “Prepare to jibe”
and then “Jibe ho!” as the turn is executed.
Each year, injuries related to the accidents listed above affect boaters
and their passengers. Best practices and limiting alcohol consumption
can help prevent the following common boating related injuries:
• Head Injuries
• Bone Fractures
• Heat Exhaustion / Stroke
• Oxygen Deprivation (Drowning)
Florida Boating Law & Safety
As of 2010, all boat operators born after 1 Jan 1988 must possess a valid
boating Safety Education ID Card. The course has been designed by the
state of Florida to ensure an increase in safety and personal awareness
in the next generation of boaters.
Additional safety training and resources, as well of a list of all boating
laws, can be found by accessing the
Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission website or by contacting the
US Coast Guard Auxiliary for information on additional safety and first aid training.
National Assoc. of Rescue Divers – Common Boating Accidents