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Stay Safe on the Water: National Safe Boating Week 2011

Photo: Two people in a kayakWearing a life jacket can dramatically decrease your chances of drowning while boating. Learn more during National Safe Boating Week, May 21-27, 2011, and "Wear It!" every time you're on the water.

During National Safe Boating Week, and all year, "Wear It!"

Everyone, on all types of boats, should wear properly-fitted life jackets, or personal flotation devices (PFD). By wearing a life jacket, you can dramatically decrease your chances of drowning in a boating incident.

Know the Facts

Recreational boating—enjoyed by over 70,000,000 Americans enjoy each year—can be a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. And making boating safety a priority can ensure that it stays fun.

Consider that:

  • In 2009, 3,358 people were injured and 736 died in boating incidents. Of those who drowned, 9 out of 10 were not wearing life jackets.
  • Of the people who died in a boating incident in 2009, more than 7 out of 10 (73%) drowned. More than 90 percent of the people who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents.

Reduce Your Risk

Whenever you are headed out on the water, keep these tips from the U.S. Coast Guard in mind:

Wear it. Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drownings and should be worn by everyone on any boat, at all times. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are now better looking and more comfortable.

Don't Drink. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. Reports suggest that alcohol was a contributing factor in about one in five boating fatalities.

Take a Course. People operating boats can help keep their passengers safe. Boating education courses teach the regulatory and statutory rules ("Rules of the Road") for safe operation and navigation of recreational boats.

Photo: Boat

Get a Vessel Safety Check. The Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations. For more information on the VSC Program, visit their web site:

Know about carbon monoxide (CO). All internal combustion engines, such as boat engines and onboard motor generators, emit CO, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, but CO can kill in a matter of minutes. To avoid CO poisoning, be aware of the risk, ensure sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas. See "Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning on Your Boat."

Also, be sure to check state and local requirements, available at the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Web site.

More Information

Protect the Ones You Love

Graphic: Because you don't want your kids to get hurt...

In an effort to raise parents' awareness about the leading causes of child injury in the United States and how they can be prevented, CDC has launched the "Protect the Ones You Love" initiative. Parents can play a life-saving role in protecting children from injuries. Learn more.

The following resources offer information that can help you stay safe on the water:

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External Resources
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