COLUMBUS – National Safe Boating Week May 22-28 reminds all boaters to brush up on boating safety skills and prepare for the boating season. This observance week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.
Ohio statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2020, and that 84% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
There are many options for boaters when it comes to choosing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, a boater should check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity, and fits properly.
“Life jackets can’t save lives unless you wear them,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz. “Make sure you are prepared whether you are fishing or just enjoying cruising on your boat.”
The National Safe Boating Council and the ODNR recommend these tips for boaters:
• Take a boating safety course. Gain valuable knowledge and on-water experience in a boating safety course with many options for novice to experienced boaters. Go here for a list of options.
• Check equipment. Schedule a free vessel safety check with local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all essential equipment is present, working and in good condition.
• Make a float plan. Always let someone on shore know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board.
• Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone wears a life jacket – every time. A stowed life jacket is no use in an emergency.
• Use an engine cut-off device, a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
• Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
• Know what’s going on around you at all times. Nearly 83% of all Ohio boating accidents in 2020 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
• Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with the area, local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
• Never boat under the influence. In 2020, a BUI was involved in 23% of Ohio’s recreational boating fatalities. Always designate a sober skipper.
• Keep in touch. Have more than one communication device that works when wet. VHF radios, emergency locator beacons, satellite phones, and cell phones can all be important devices in an emergency.