Don’t let booze and boats become BUI or worse

Don’t let booze and boats become BUI or worse

Beautiful weather has boating enthusiasts turning out in droves which also creates the potential for havoc when alcohol is part of the mix. It is not illegal to drink and operate a boat but anyone caught with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is subject to arrest.

Often overlooked are the impact of sun and heat. Time in the outdoors can quickly dehydrate boaters. However, fluid replacement using alcohol is not the answer for anyone driving a boat.

Boating under the influence is a factor in 17% of boating fatalities according to Operation Dry Water, an initiative of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. This year, their awareness campaign is June 28-30, the weekend before the Fourth of July, a day when good weather, booze and boats are on a collision course.

Just as with operating a vehicle, the danger may not be you but “the other guy.” Some of the greatest boating tragedies in recent memory have involved “the other guy” colliding with an unsuspecting boat or swimmers. That’s another reason to take care and have your passengers wear life jackets.

According to the SunJournal, the following statistics apply to the vast majority of recreational boaters:

  • The most common types of vessels involved in accidents are open motorboats
  • Eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length;
  • One of the leading causes of boating accidents is machinery failure; and
  • Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing a life jacket.

The United StatesCoast Guard notes on their boating web site that the chance of drowning while wearing a life jacket is 1 in 66; for those choosing not to wear a life jacket? 1 in 11. Put another way, in 88% of drownings, the victims were not wearing a life jacket according to a CBS News report. Not only is it prudent to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) on recreational craft, it is good behavior to model for youngsters who yearn for the freedom of going out alone on the high seas and lakes around Maine and New Hampshire.

Also, for Maine residents using jet skis (aka personal watercraft), the restrictions are very rigid for youthful operators. Persons 16 years of age and under 18 years of age MAY NOT operate a personal watercraft unless they possess on their person, identification showing proof of age and proof of successful completion of a boating safety course unless they are accompanied by a person 18 years of age or older who physically occupies the personal watercraft.

The Coast Guard has an extensive online video library to brush up on your safety skills as well as introduce your children to safe boating practices. Why is it worthwhile to learn more? Every two-and-a-half hours, someone is injured or killed in a boating accident. Don’t let it be you, a child or a family member.

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