Boating Safety

Summer feels like it is finally here to stay and that means people are starting to flock to the water. Boating is a great way to enjoy the summer months and Wisconsin has access to some of the best water in the country. Lakes, rivers, ponds and streams are beginning to teem with all types of watercraft. Boating, while fun, results in hundreds of deaths every year which is why making sure you participate safely is so important.

Here are some statistics from a recent study conducted by the United States Coast Guard that demonstrate just how dangerous boating can be:

  • In 2013 there were over 4,000 recreational boating accidents
  • These accidents caused 560 deaths and resulted in 2,620 injuries
  • The property damage from these accidents cost almost $40 million dollars
  • 77% of fatal boating accidents is caused by drowning
  • 84% of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets
  • 80% of boating deaths occurred on boats where the operator had not taken a boating safety course
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents where the primary cause was known

What these statistics demonstrate is that boating can be dangerous and that almost all boating accidents are completely preventable. Wearing life jackets, taking a boating safety course and not consuming alcohol while operating a boat can dramatically reduce the likelihood of experiencing a fatal boating accident. Follow the links below for useful information on how to enjoy safe boating this summer:

Life Jackets: As the statistics demonstrate, if more boaters were wearing lifejackets at the time of an accident it is likely that most of them would still be alive. Life jackets are the most important piece of boating safety equipment and must be available to everyone in a boat. It is also important to make sure you have the right size and type of lifejacket for every type of passenger in your boat. Click here to access a free pamphlet from the US Coast Guard that covers how to select the right kinds of life jackets.

Boat Safety Courses: Since 4/5 of all boating accidents are caused by boaters who had not taken a boating safety course, it is evident that these courses can help prevent accidents. Visit and select your state to find a boater safety course near you.

Carbon Monoxide: Boat motors produce Carbon Monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can be fatal when inhaled. The closer the proximity to the boat motor the greater the concentration of CO. If inhaled, it can result in loss of consciousness which can lead to drowning. Click here to learn what the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are and how to keep safe from CO while boating.

Boat Inspections: Did you know the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct free boat inspections almost anywhere in the United States? These are no consequence inspections designed to make sure your boat is as safe as possible and to offer suggestions on what you can do to improve your boat’s safety. If you are interested in receiving one of these inspections all you need to do is submit this simple form.

Alcohol: Just like drinking and driving, drinking and boating is a bad idea. Not only is it extremely dangerous, it is also illegal and can result in fines and even jail time. To learn exactly what the laws are regarding boating and drinking, click here.

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