PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recreational boating activity soars during warm weather months, and so do boating incidents and injuries. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s “Boating Statistics 2008,”1 the most recent year available, there are almost 13 million registered recreational boats in the United States. While overall boating fatalities slightly increased from 685 in 2007 to 709 in 2008, there were other key casualty factors related to boating safety activity. Approximately 4,800 boating accidents were reported, a slight decrease from nearly 5,200 in 2007, and close to 3,400 people required medical treatment beyond first aid, a slight decrease from nearly 3,700 in 2007. In addition, property damage exceeded $54 million, a slight increase from more than $53 million in 2007.
Though the statistics are sobering, the risk of boating injuries and accidents can be minimized. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the majority of reported incidents involved factors that were within the control of boat operators. ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, one of the nation’s largest recreational marine insurance providers, and part of the ACE Group, has again released its top ten list detailing tips to help recreational boaters stay safe, thus potentially reducing the number of preventable accidents that may occur each year.
“There’s no mystery to boating safety and its potential impact on saving lives. Safe boating is the aim of all boaters and comes from active participation in ongoing education and training, as well as experience. Understanding and obeying navigational rules and safety procedures has proven to help reduce injuries and property damage,” said Damon R. Hostetter, Senior Vice President, ACE Recreational Marine Insurance.
ACE Recreational Marine Top Ten Recreational Boating Safety Tips
1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 70 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2008.1 Ninety percent of those who drowned were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. Always have an adequate supply of personal flotation devices (PFDs) aboard. Make sure that children are wearing appropriate life jackets that fit correctly. Drowning was the reported cause of death for approximately 63 percent of the children who perished in 2008, a 13-percent increase from 2007. Overall, fatal accident data suggests that nearly 460 lives could have been saved if boaters had worn their life jackets. In cold water areas, life jackets are even more important. A fall into water colder than 60 degrees (Fahrenheit) can induce “cold shock” – a sudden gasping for air that can increase the risk of drowning, especially in older people. Hypothermia is a cold-water danger, too.
2. Never drink alcohol while boating. In 2008, alcohol was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in nearly 21 percent of all boating fatalities. Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.1
3. Take a boating safety course. About 90 percent of all reported boating fatalities in 2008 occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety course.1 You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadron2or visit www.uscg.mil for information on courses in your area.
4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 accounted for the highest rate of the total boating fatalities in 2008.1 Don’t forget that safety begins with you.
5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.
6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a careful lookout. Overall, operator inattention, carelessness/reckless operation, operator inexperience and excess speed were significant contributing factors in virtually all reported accidents. 1 Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don’t invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.
7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.
8. Have your vessel checked for safety—for free! The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Coast Guard Auxiliary staffers will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters. Make sure your vessel is as safe as possible. Carry flares at all times. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site athttp://www.uscgboating.org/safety/safety.htm for further information.
9. Use a carbon monoxide detector. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can kill in minutes. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused 11 boating deaths in 2008.1
10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don’t return when expected.
According to Mr. Hostetter, the more educated recreational boaters are about safety practices on the water, the better. “Another important preparation is to have reliable and comprehensive insurance in place. Few people would drive a car without adequate insurance, yet countless recreational boaters take this risk,” he noted.
Some boat owners may be unaware that liability insurance can provide important coverage, including medical, that may extend to paid crew and passengers. They can better protect themselves and their passengers by purchasing insurance that will cover medical care if their injuries are caused by an uninsured operator of another boat. Insurance coverages that will pay for repairs if their boat is damaged in the water, on land, or during transport are also available. Boat owners can also insure against the loss of personal property, the costs of towing and emergency assistance.
In addition to the boating safety tips above, ACE also offers other free brochures: “Coming Out of Lay-up” and “Spring Suggestions,” are two providing detailed recommendations for preparing your vessel for the boating season. Please visit www.acemarineinsurance.com to download these or other safety brochures, by clicking on the “Boating Safety & Loss Prevention” link, then selecting either the “Coming Out of Lay-up” or the “Get a Head Start on Spring!” brochure.
To learn more about ACE Recreational Marine Insurance and obtain valuable information on a wide range of safety and loss prevention topics, please visit www.acemarineinsurance.com
ACE Recreational Marine Insurance, part of ACE Private Risk Services, has been serving marine clients for more than 200 years, since 1792 when its predecessor company wrote the very first marine insurance policy issued in the United States. ACE offers exceptional all-risk insurance coverage to protect the entire spectrum of pleasure yachts and boats, including classic boats, luxury mega-yachts and sailboats, sport fishing boats, ski boats, personal watercraft, high performance vessels and select charter vessels. Product highlights are summaries only; please see actual policy for terms and conditions. Products may not be available in all states.To learn more about ACE Recreational Marine Insurance and obtain valuable information on a wide range of safety and loss prevention topics, please visit www.acemarineinsurance.com.
ACE Private Risk Services is the high-net-worth personal lines business of ACE Group, and provides specialty coverage for homeowners, automobile, recreational marine, umbrella liability and collections insurance for affluent individuals and families. Celebrating 25 years of insuring progress, the ACE Group is a global leader in insurance and reinsurance serving a diverse group of clients. Headed by ACE Limited (NYSE:ACE), the ACE Group conducts its business on a worldwide basis with operating subsidiaries in more than 50 countries.Additional information can be found at: www.acelimited.com.
Any summary of information or available coverages is intended as general information and is not intended to amend, alter or modify the actual terms, limits or conditions contained in any policy of insurance or its declarations. Exclusions and limitations may apply to some losses. Coverage may not be available in all states.Coverage is governed solely by the terms and conditions of the policy itself. Insurance buyers should consult their agent, broker or other insurance professional if they have questions about their insurance needs.
2 United States Power Squadron. www.usps.org.