July 4th is the deadliest boating holiday

SEATTLE- The Coast Guard advises all boaters and paddlers venturing out on the water this Fourth of July to be responsible and prudent mariners, to save the alcohol for when the trip is completed, and to maintain a constant safety vigil.

The Fourth of July holiday is not only the busiest boating period of the year, but it also holds the tragic distinction of being the deadliest nationwide.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of the deaths.

The best insurance for surviving most sudden water emergencies is to wear a life jacket. There are a wide variety of comfortable, Coast Guard-approved life jackets available.

“Understanding your role when operating a vessel goes beyond preparing your ice chest and tackle box. The rules of safe and sober operation are no different than in an automobile. Being prepared in the event of a maritime emergency is of primary importance.” Said Captain Roy Nash, Chief of Staff, Coast Guard Pacific Northwest. “The waterways in the northwest are a beautiful resource that must be enjoyed responsibly.”

Facts and figures from the national 2007 boating season:

When comparing 2006 and 2007, the number of deaths dropped from 710 to 685. However, other casualty figures increased: accidents rose from 4967 to 5191, injuries rose from 3474 to 3673, and damages rose from $43,670,424 to $53,106,496.

  • Over two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, ninety (90) percent were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Only fourteen (14) percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
  • Three out of every four boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Operator inattention, careless/reckless operation, passenger/skier behavior, excessive speed, and alcohol use rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of the deaths.
  • Sixteen (16) children age 12 and under lost their lives while boating in 2007, compared to 29 children in 2006 and 21 children in 2005. Half (8) of the children who died in 2007 died from drowning.
  • The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (44%), personal watercraft (24%), and cabin motorboats (15%). The number of deaths associated with the use of canoes/kayaks increased to 107 in 2007 as compared with 99 in 2006.
  • The 12,875,568 vessels registered by the States in 2007 represent a one percent increase from last year when 12,746,126 vessels were registered

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