Connecticut is in many ways a boater’s paradise. It has access to landlocked waterways and lakes as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you own your own vessel, go out with a friend who frequently fishes or plan on taking a recreational boating excursion with family members over the summer, you probably won’t think twice about heading out onto the open water in a boat.
What you may not realize is that hundreds of people die in recreational boating accidents across the United States every year and thousands more suffer serious injuries. Boating accidents can occur because a vessel capsizes, unexpected inclement weather or even of alcohol consumption.
According to recent boating accident data, it has become more dangerous recently to head out in a boat.
Boating incident rates rose significantly in 2020
Although the 2021 data is not yet available, information from United States Coast Guard about 2020 boating issues is reason for concern. 2020 saw a drastic increase in the total number of boating accidents. They increased from 4,168 to 5,265, which is an increase of 26.3%.
The number of people hurt who did not die in boating incidents went up by 24.7%, and the number of boating fatalities also increased. There were 767 recorded boating deaths in the United States in 2020, which was 25.1% higher than the number of fatalities in 2019. Alcohol played a role in 18% of those fatalities.
There could be even more fatalities and injuries reported in the upcoming boating season. The overall risk for boaters may be higher now than it was just a few years ago.
How can you protect yourself?
There are two simple steps that you can take to reduce the risk of a tragedy while out boating recreationally. The first is to avoid over-consuming alcohol, especially if you intend to swim or will be the one operating the vessel. The second is to wear personal flotation devices, even if you think they don’t look great. Many people who die in recreational boating incidents do not have PFDs on at the time of the incident.
Recognizing your risk for a recreational boating accident and taking steps to reduce that risk could help you have more fun while staying safe this summer.