If you enjoy the excitement of a boat outing, jet ski ride, or swim, there’s something you need to know. You are at risk for drowning, and you may not even realize it. Drowning accidents don’t just happen in dark or stormy water. A shocking University of Toronto study found that individuals are 70% more likely to drown on nice warm days. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that every day, ten people die as a result of drowning accidents.
Unfortunately, even those who survive, like the 4-year-old boy who nearly drowned in a Disney Cruise Line ship pool, can face long term care or hospitalization. Those participating in any kind of water-related activity often face life-long injuries, including brain damage. That risk is something boaters and those who enjoy water sports and activities are constantly faced with.
Whether heading out on the high seas or sailing across a small channel, drowning is always a risk for boaters and anyone enjoying water-related activities. Boaters might think they can avoid such a tragedy because they are aboard a vessel, but even the most experienced and careful of boaters can run into unexpected rogue waves, sudden weather changes, and even unchartered rocks that can lead to a crash, capsizing, or lead a vessel to turn over and cause passengers to get thrown overboard. If not wearing a life jacket, victims (especially those who sustain injuries) do not have a high chance of survival. Sometimes boating accident victims are able to swim to shore or at least to a safe location, but if sea and weather conditions are unfavorable, if the accident occurred far from land, or if the accident itself led the victim to lose consciousness or become severely hurt, there’s only so much time a victim can stay afloat before drowning.
Swimmers and watersport lovers are also at risk for drowning. Several things can go wrong while in the water, from experiencing a cramp to getting pulled underwater by a wave. If individuals choose to swim or partake in activities in the open ocean or far away from life guards or the shore, it is much more likely that a drowning accident will ensue if an incident occurs. The risk is even higher for boaters who go out into more remote areas and choose to swim or engage in water sports at these locations. Waters may be deeper in the areas and currents may also be stronger, as opposed to conditions typically seen in more common recreational swimming areas.
So what can you do? The answer is plenty. While drowning is always a possible risk factor for anyone who is out in open waters, there are measures you can take to improve your safety. Here are a few tips from an experienced boating accident lawyer that can help you avoid a drowning accident:
- Take Swimming Lessons – Swimming lessons can drastically reduce your chances of becoming a drowning accident victim. Even if you think you can swim like a fish, it’s always good to brush up on proper techniques and learn how best to react when an emergency strikes. That way, if you are involved in a boating or personal watercraft accident, you’ll be better able to handle unfavorable conditions, conserve energy, and hopefully swim toward a safe location.
- Wear a Life Jacket – All the boating accident lawyers at our firm have stressed this time and time again. Wearing life jackets can mean the difference between life and death, especially in the event of a boating accident. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, roughly 72% of boating accident deaths in 2010 were the result of drowning, and 84% of these victims were not wearing life jackets. If you are injured or become unconscious, a life jacket is the only thing that will keep you afloat.
- Refrain from Alcohol Consumption – Another risk factor that leads to drowning is alcohol use. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and motor reflexes, which can impede someone who is involved in an accident at sea to react with the necessary quickness and stamina required to survive. Save the alcohol for land-based activities (and definitely not those involving driving).
- Learn CPR – If you are a regular recreational boater, swimmer, or watersport enthusiast, you may want to consider learning CPR. If someone in your party does sustain a drowning accident, by performing CPR, you can save their lives.
By following these easy steps and abiding by proper boating safety laws, you can reduce your chances of becoming a drowning accident victim.