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Notice to Readers: National Safe Boating Week --- May 19--25, 2001

National Safe Boating Week is May 19--25, 2001. Boating safety improved in the United States throughout the 1990s. Despite a 15% increase in boats registered, the boating fatality rate declined 32% from 1990 to 1999. However, boating-related deaths continue to occur. In 1999, 734 persons died in boating incidents. Boaters routinely should adopt safety practices.

All boaters should wear personal flotation devices (PFDs). Capsizing and falling overboard account for more than half of all recreational boating deaths each year (1). Although all states and territories (except Guam, Hawaii, and Idaho) have regulations on wearing life jackets, most affect only children aged <12 years.

Boaters should avoid alcoholic beverages while boating. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. Approximately one third of all deaths caused by a collision involved alcohol use.

Boaters should be aware of the risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Potential sources of CO poisoning include using air conditioning powered by an onboard motor generator, operating a gasoline powered engine while docked and/or rafted with other boats operating engines, or being underway with improper cabin ventilation. To avoid CO poisoning, boaters should have sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors.

Boaters should be aware of potential hazards and the regulations of operating a boat. Boating education courses teach the regulatory and statutory rules for safely operating and navigating recreational boats. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program to promote boating safety. Volunteers check safety equipment and provide information about equipment purpose, safety procedures, and applicable regulations.

Additional information about boating safety is available from the U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Boating Safety at or National Association of State Boating Law Administrators at* Information about the VSC program is available at CDC fact sheets and articles on boating and water safety are available at and


  1. US Coast Guard. Boating statistics---1999. US Department of Transportation, US Coast Guard, 1999. Available at Accessed May 2001.

*References to sites of nonfederal organizations on the World-Wide Web are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites.

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Page converted: 6/8/2001


Safer, Healthier People

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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This page last reviewed 6/8/2001