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Boats and Safe Boating
Boating is one of the favorite American summer pastimes. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 million people go boating each year. While boating is much safer than driving a car, there are still enough boating accidents to raise some alarm signals as to why boating accidents occur. 53% of fatal boating accident victims drowned, while 39% suffered trauma and 9% died of other causes. Most boating deaths result from falling out of a small open boat, without a PFD, whether it capsizes or not. Make sure that all boaters have on flotation devices. When boating be alert to sudden boat motion changes, wind shifts, light flashes and the beginning of choppy water. These sudden changes can all mean a storm is brewing. Always carry a radio with the local “Marine Band” on it. The Marine Band broadcasts storm warnings, which should alert you to head in to a dock until the storm blows over.
On The Water
There is no excuse for littering, especially on the water. The litter that you throw into the water can contaminate fish, the water that goes to our cities, and surrounding farmlands. Going out on the boat with your family can be a fun experience that can create many happy childhood memories for your children. Growing up on the water is an experience that not all children get to have. If sunbathing is a priority, then a calm inlet where you can tie floats to the boat and be lazy in the water is a perfect spot. Many now rent houseboats where they spend their vacations enjoying the peace and tranquility of the waterways.
Canoes are designed for ease of getting in and out, especially for older folks wishing to get into the sport. Canoes are versatile and practical for a number of reasons, and can work in a number of different situations. When it comes to introducing yourself to the water, canoes are a great place to start. The longer canoes are excellent for long open water trips, but you can also buy one-person smaller canoes for running white water. One feature that the canoe has over the Kayak is its storage capacity, which allows passengers to haul large amounts of accessories and supplies on extended water trips. Canoes however can sometimes be difficult to transport, unless you have a full-sized pickup truck and especially if you plan on loading it yourself. Another drawback of canoes is that when it rains heavily, the boat can fill up with water very rapidly.
The way kayaks are designed; they seem to blend in with the natural surroundings instead of disturbing them. Kayaks are never motorized…they are propelled manually, using one oar that has a paddle on either side. Kayaks are small, streamlined boats that have tapered ends and slightly thicker centers. There are openings in the middle that are just large enough to fit one person. One benefit that kayaks have over canoes is their portability. Kayaks are very easy to transport due to their size as compared to a canoe. Another thing that is making Kayaks very popular is their storability. Inflatable kayaks are becoming more and more popular for this main reason. The serenity of paddling your kayak along a glassy lake in the early morning or along a river through a small canyon at sunset can be an incomparable experience.
Engine driven boats
Before starting your engine, always carefully sniff for gasoline fumes in the engine and fuel areas, open hatches and run the blower. Fuel fires and explosions burn and kill boaters each year. People who take boat trips often fail to realize the potential disasters that can ensue if they are not careful and safe on-board their boat. Over 1,000 people die on boating trips per year, and many of the dangers associated with boating are easily preventable.
Alcohol and Boating
Did you know?
* The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities?
* The penalties for BUI (boating under the influence) can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms?
* It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state?
Every boater needs to understand the risks of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs (BUI). The Coast Guard also enforces a federal law that prohibits BUI. This law pertains to ALL boats (from canoes and rowboats to the largest ships) — and includes foreign vessels that operate in U.S. waters, as well as U.S. vessels on the high seas.
Bottom line: don't drink and boat, wear your lifejacket, carry a radio with the Marine Band on it, take a safe boating course and maintain a proper lookout, especially for boaters who fit the profile of an accident-maker. Each year hundreds of lives are lost... thousands are injured... and millions of dollars of property damage occurs because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways. Too often pleasure outings turn tragic. You — as a boat operator, passenger, or concerned individual — can make a difference.
Copyright © 2007 Jerry Tarrer
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