According to the U.S. Coast Guard, operator inexperience is one of the top five causes of boating accidents, along with machinery failure, speed, driver inattention and improper lookout. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained and attentive. You also can save up to 15 percent on your Safeco boat policy by completing a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
It's not enough to just have life jackets on board. You and your passengers must wear them. The Coast Guard reported that, in 2013, drowning accounted for 77 percent of all boating fatalities. Eight-four percent of those victims were not wearing a life jacket. New lighter, more comfortable and attractive life jackets are available today, making it even easier to get passengers to suit up.
Turn off your engine when there are people in the water, especially when they’re using the rear swimming deck of your boat. Teak surfing, or holding onto the back deck of a boat while it’s moving, can expose people in the water to dangerous and even fatal levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless. A swimmer exposed to carbon monoxide from your engine could pass out and drown before anyone notices. You can install a carbon monoxide detector on your boat for less than $100.
Alcohol is a contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, says the Coast Guard. In a past study, the Coast Guard found that a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a car driver, drink for drink. A boating under the influence (BUI) conviction can result in a fine, imprisonment or both. In addition, some states will revoke your driver's license if you are apprehended for boating while intoxicated. Never operate or ride a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.