Officials Offer Memorial Day Safe-Boating Advice

Photo/USCG

With Memorial Day approaching, the Massachusetts Environmental Police is urging boaters to take the following precautions over the weekend:

In addition to wearing lifejackets, officials recommend that boaters take a boating-safety course, operate boats only while sober and make sure their boats have the required safety equipment onboard. Massachusetts Environmental Police Director Col. Aaron Gross also cautions boaters that water temperatures are still cool and boaters should take precautions to prevent hypothermia.

Boating Accident Statistics

In 2009, more than 74 percent of all fatalities nationally from boating accidents were due to drowning, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Of those who drowned, 71 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. Check out this link for more information: National Boating Accident Statistics.

Most boating fatalities occur as the result of boaters failing to wear a lifejacket or not having the appropriate lifejackets on board the vessel. There were 51 reported boating accidents in Massachusetts resulting in 10 fatalities in 2009, down from 64 reported boating accidents that resulted in 11 fatalities in 2008. Drowning was the number one cause of fatalities in both years, and none of those victims wore lifejackets.

According to the Coast Guard, there were 736 boating fatalities nationally in 2009, down from 924 in 1991.

The Environmental Police is also cautioning inland boaters about swift rivers, which can lead to unpredictable water hazards, including floating debris. In addition, water temperatures in coastal waters and rivers and lakes at this time of year can be as cool as 40 degrees, a temperature that can cause hypothermia and affect even a strong swimmer’s ability to make it to shore.

Other Information:

  • All boating accidents must be reported to the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (800-632-8075).
  • The Environmental Police encourage boaters of all ages and experience to take a safe boating course.
  • Registration information and links to nationally approved course providers.

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