News Stories

National Safe Boating Week kicks off on May 16 with Ready, Set, Wear It”

Published May 15, 2015

 WILMINGTON, N.C. - The importance of flotation devices and other watercraft safety tips are the focus of the 2015 National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22. “Wear It” during National Safe Boating Week and throughout the entire boating season.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is teaming up with the National Safe Boating Council and other boating safety advocates across the U.S. to promote safe and responsible boating during National Safe Boating Week 2015 and relies on events like “Ready, Set, Wear It” and National Boating Safety Week to bring more awareness to the importance of wearing flotation devices and of practicing safe boating. 

 Many people who drown never intended to be in the water and 89 percent of people who die in water-related accidents were not wearing a life jacket, according to Pam Doty, National Water Safety Program Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Each year, on average, 700 people die in boating-related accidents nationwide. Nearly 80 percent of the victims were not wearing a life jacket.   According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s published 2014 statistics where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Wilmington District’s Water Safety Program Manager Carmen Boyette says life jackets are more comfortable, convenient and lightweight than ever before.

 “They come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit every person and recreational opportunity,” Boyette said. “Inflatable life jackets are gaining in popularity because they fit easily over any clothing, can be worn as a vest or belt-pack, and can be another option in addition to more traditional buoyant life jackets.”

 The US Army Corps of Engineers is the leading provider of outdoor recreation with over 400 lake and river projects in 43 states enjoyed by 370 million visitors every year, Boyette said.  “We want all our visitors to enjoy their stay, play it safe and return home alive to the ones they love, and we want to remind boaters to practice safe and responsible boating, always wear your life jacket and always remain on alert while on the water.”

Knowing some of the facts about drowning may help save your life or the life of someone you love.  According to US Army Corps of Engineers statistics, the majority of people (88%) who drown are male, 39% are 18-35 years old, 24% are 36-53 years old and 89% of the people who die in water-related accidents were not wearing a life jacket.  Over 90% of the people who die in boating-related accidents had not taken a boating safety course.


Water Safety Tips

TIP: Are You Next? Expect the Unexpected and Wear Your Life Jacket! The question is “Are You Next?”  You could be the next person to drown if you don’t play it safe.  Your best defense against the unexpected is a life jacket. Wear your life jacket and encourage those you love to wear one too. 

TIP:  Learn to swim well and swim with a buddy.  It only takes an average of 20 seconds for a child to drown and 60 seconds for an adult.  Never let your children swim by themselves.  Adult supervision is a must to ensure you don’t lose the ones you love.  Swimming ability decreases with age so even if you are a strong swimmer wear your life jacket especially in open water conditions. 

TIP:  Many people who drown never intended to enter the water and they drown within 10-30 feet of safety.  Sixty percent of the time people who drown were either witnessed by someone or there were people in the area that could have helped save them. 

TIP: Learn to identify the four signs of a person who is drowning.  The drowning signs are head back, mouth open, no sound and arms slapping the water in an up and down motion. 

TIP: The proper ways to rescue someone in the water that is in distress is to reach, throw, row, don’t go.  Reach something out to the person without endangering yourself, throw them something that floats, row your boat close to the person with the motor off.  Never attempt an in-water rescue unless you are trained to do so.  Instead, go for help or send someone else for help.   Oftentimes a double-drowning occurs when someone enters the water to attempt a rescue because a person fighting for their life is extremely strong and in order to stay afloat they will hold the person who is trying to help them underwater.      

TIP: Take a boater safety course and boat with a buddy.  According to the U.S. Coast Guard 88% of the people that died in a boating accident were on vessels where the operator had not taken a NASBLA-approved boater safety course.  There are on-line courses available at   US Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Power Squadrons offer courses in most states.  As a bonus, many insurance companies offer reduced rates for taking a boating safety course.