Encouraged by year-round sunshine and warm weather, water sports and activities
are common for Florida residents and tourists. As temperatures climb in
summer months, involvement in water recreation activities including boating,
parasailing and kayaking increases as well.
Unfortunately, water sports and boating activities also present relative
dangers. Each year, carelessness and operator inexperience contribute
to drowning deaths and serious anoxic brain injuries for those who survive
Boating and Water Sports Accident Statistics
Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths
in the US. Below are statistics related to this type of accident:
- One in five people who die from drowning each year are children ages 14 or below
- 50% of drowning injury victims treated in emergency rooms required special
- Brain cells begin to die off after just four minutes of oxygen deprivation
Inexperience and speeding are responsible for 96% of all
PWC (wave-runner) accidents
- PWC renters are 25% more likely to experience an accident than owners
- In 2012, 651 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries resulted from recreational
- 85% of drowning fatality victims were reported as not wearing a life jacket
or personal flotation device
- Seven out of ten drowning victims were associated with vessels under 21 feet long
Water Sports Safety Tips
Training, education, and adherence to safety standards can help reduce
the amount of water sports injuries each year. Inexperienced renters or
new owners of boats, PWC, or kayaks should implement a few basic precautions
to prevent serious accidents from occurring.
1. Learn How to Swim: Basic swimming ability will prepare an individual when engaging in any
water-related sports or activities. This skill can also prevent a person
from panicking if he/she should fall in the water. Panicked swimmers can
also pose a danger to anyone attempting to pull them to safety.
2. Wear a Life Jacket / Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Strong swimming ability is not exemption from wearing a life vest. Most
PFDs are designed to keep a person’s head above water if he/she
is rendered unconscious.
3. Don’t Go Alone: Avoid boating, kayaking, or riding a PWC alone. Take a friend or set
out with a group. If you must go out onto the water alone, set a sail
plan just like a pilot sets a flight plan. Friends or family should be
made aware each time you go out on the water, where you’re going,
and how long you expect to be gone. Stick to your sail plan and agree
to call someone once you come ashore safely.
4. Avoid Consuming Alcohol: The vessel operator should abstain from alcoholic beverages while on
the water. Combined with full sun exposure and greater potential for dehydration,
the effects of alcohol on the water have been proven to be more debilitating
than on land.
US Coast Guard statistics cited that alcohol use on the water as the highest contributing factor
to fatal boating accidents.
US Coast Guard (PDF) –http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Page/705.PDF
Arizona Boating & Watersports –http://azbw.com/10_Safety_Tips_For_Outdoor_Watersports.php
Wikipedia – PWC-related accidents –