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Most boating deaths are drownings. How many drowning victims were wearing a proper PFD at the time of the accident?
10% is correct for Most boating deaths are drownings.
The United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) annual report of Recreational Boating Statistics revealed a total of 658 deaths and 2,629 injuries as a result of recreational boating accidents in 2017. Where the cause of death was known, 76 percent of fatal accident victims drowned with 84.5 percent of the drowning victims reported as not wearing a life jacket.
Water activities–kayaking, boating, fishing, jet skiing, to name a few–are popular not only in Chicago but throughout the country, with an average of 87 million Americans annually participating in a boating activity between 2013 and spring 2017. But, as shown by USCG statistics, water enthusiasts and boaters do not always engage in safe practices such as wearing a life jacket. In this three-part series, Inside UL will discuss the obstacles to adopting safe water practices, how to choose a life jacket and the testing of these devices.
Minimize Risk by Wearing PFDs
Approximately 70% of all boating fatalities are drownings, and most of those fatalities could have been avoided. Ninety percent of drowning victims are not wearing a PFD—drownings are rare when boaters are wearing an appropriate PFD. One of the most important things you can do to make boating safe and enjoyable is not only to carry enough PFDs for everyone on board but also to have everyone wear them!
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Not Enough Time
Setting life jackets to the side is a common practice in water activities where one does not plan to get wet. They may be stored under a boat seat or placed to the side within arm’s reach, but accidents occur quickly, often giving victims little time to react or reach for a life jacket.
The USCG estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims. One cannot count on the security of their boat to protect them from the water, nor should they fall into the trap of believing they have enough time to don a life jacket. Err on the side of caution; always wear a life jacket when on or near the water.
It’s in the Future
Merriam-Webster defines an accident as an unforeseen event or circumstance, lacking intent or motive; an unfortunate event resulting from carelessness or ignorance. An accident by its very nature occurs suddenly and without warning; we live with the knowledge that an accident could happen at any time but rarely do humans prepare for an actual event. It is the juxtaposition between the two that leads to our lack of preparedness–the possibility of an accident is always in the future but, because it’s not imminent, we rarely prepare for the possibility..
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