While California’s weather is generally favorable to boaters all year, spring and summer do see an increase in the number of boats actually out in the water. The warmer weather, school breaks, vacation time and increasing daylight all give people more time to enjoy their hobby.
That also means an increase in the number of accidents on the water. California is already second in the nation (Florida is first) when it comes to the number of boating accidents per year — every year since 2011.
Some of that may be because those two states simply have more boaters in general — which then means more opportunity for accidents. It’s likely not a coincidence that, in 2015, the number one cause of accidents among recreational boaters in California is a collision with another recreational boater.
Statistically, there are some other major dangers that Californian’s need to watch out for while on the water:
- Running aground
- Flooding the boat or engine
- Overboard Falls
- Capsizing the vessel
- Collision with a fixed object
Open motorboats and personal watercraft, like jet skis, are the two most danger-prone types of recreational vessels out on the water. Overall, the economic damage caused by the number of accidents among California’s boaters totaled more than $3 million in 2015, coming in behind only Florida and Rhode Island.
In order to stay safer and keep your passengers safer, there are three things that you can do:
- Avoid drinking. You want to limit alcohol intake of your guests while on the open water. A beer or two is fine, but getting drunk increases the risk of falling overboard. And, as the boat’s captain, you shouldn’t be drinking and driving at all.
- Get out the life jackets. The majority of drowning victims don’t have life jackets on when they go into the water or don’t have the right type of life jacket. Make sure that everyone has a life jacket on and that they fit properly.
- Stay clear of crowded waters. Steer yourself and your guests into an area that isn’t overly full of other boats, where the risk of a crash is higher. Stay at a safe speed when operating your own boat so you have more time to react if a speeder comes your way.