What happens when you combine water, warm temperatures and sunny days? A great opportunity for outdoor recreation! May 18-24, 2013, is National Safe Boating Week. Whether you are an experienced boater or just getting out on the water for the first time, boating can be a fun way to explore the environment and enjoy nice weather. It can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared. The U.S. Coast Guard tallied over 4,500 recreational boating accidents in 2011 – including 758 deaths, over 3,000 injuries and 52 million dollars of damage to property.
Viewer Tip: Whether you’re hitting the water in a motor boat, canoe, kayak or raft, brush up on safe boating practices and know how to protect yourself and others in all kinds of weather. These tips will make sure everyone has a safe boating season:
- Take thunderstorms seriously. Thunderstorms can develop quickly, causing dangerous wave conditions, torrential downpours and lightning. If a storm is approaching, wait for the storm to pass – do not venture out on the water. If you are already on the water and cannot make it to port or shore before the storm hits, head to the cabin of your boat and stay away from any metal or any electrical devices. If your boat does not have a cabin, stay as low as possible in the boat. More lightning safety tips from the National Weather Service.
- Stay safe in the sun. The Friday before Memorial Day, May 24, 2013, is Don’t Fry Day. The bad news: there are over 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed annually. The good news: skin cancer is highly curable when detected early and there are simple ways to protect your skin from sun damage when you spend time outside. The National Council on Skin Cancer wants you to remember to “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!” Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, slap on a wide-brimmed hat and wrap on some sunglasses.
- Wear your life jacket. Nearly 85 percent of people who drown while boating are not wearing a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket is one of the most effective and life-saving strategies for safe recreational boating. Make sure everyone on the boat is wearing a life jacket when spending time on the water. They come in many different colors, shapes and sizes – there are even life jackets for pets.
- Make boating safe for the environment, too. Boat within marked channels, observe “no wake” zones, and avoid areas with shallow water and sea grass beds. Properly dispose of trash and fishing line. And, take care to avoid spills when refueling. More clean boating tips from the American Boating Association.
(Sources: National Weather Service, “National Safe Boating Week,” http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/safeboating/; National Council on Skin Care Prevention, “Don’t Fry Day,” http://www.skincancerprevention.org/programs/dont-fry-day; U.S. Coast Guard, “Recreational Boating Statistics 2011,” http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Publications/557.PDF; American Boating Association. “Clean Boating and Environmental Stewardship.” http://www.americanboating.org/clean.asp; Image courtesty of US Coast Guard)