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How Safe Boating Can Reduce the Occurrence of Drowning

Jul 25, 2021 11:00AM ● By Anand Subramanian

Figure 1 - Boating Experience. Source - Google.

When summer break arrives, our first instinct is to cool down by a pool, boat in the lake, or spend a day at the beach. While lake days create thoughts of boating, bathing suits, sunscreen, and fishing, we must not forget that a beautiful lake day may rapidly turn hazardous if safety is not prioritized. According to the National Safety Council's annual statistics report on accidental injuries, ten people die every day from drowning in the United States alone. This makes drowning the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. In this article, we will explore the drowning epidemic and safe boating techniques to prevent such incidents.

According to the CDC, around 4000 people die each year from boat-related incidents, with boat-related drowning deaths totaling 700 and 3,191 people wounded. For every youngster who drowns and dies, eight more undergo emergency room treatment for non-fatal drowning, which can cause brain damage and other catastrophic consequences such as long-term impairment. According to a survey, the leading cause of leisure boating accidents was operator inattention, which was responsible for 546 casualties, while 620 boating-related fatalities were attributed to not donning life vests. According to the ABA Boating Safety Program, 8 out of every 10 boaters who died were operating vessels less than 21 feet in length. There were 171 accidents in which one person was impacted by a propeller, resulting in 35 deaths and 155 injuries.

Figure 2 - Drowning Accidents. Source - Pexel

Many people envision the person in trouble writhing and flailing around in the water when they think of drowning. While dramatic and loud drowning is a cultural expectation, drowning generally occurs quickly and quietly. Except in exceptional cases, drowning persons are biologically unable to cry for aid since our respiratory system is built for breathing, and breathing must be completed before speech can occur. Drowning people's mouths are not above the water surface long enough to breathe, inhale, and shout for aid. The victim's arms likewise go downwards as the impulse drowning person seeks to force their body upwards on something firm that isn't there. Unless a drowning person is rescued by a professional lifeguard, they will only be able to struggle on the water's surface for 20 to 60 seconds before submerging.


Even if data on drowning and fatalities terrifies you, you can still enjoy boating adventures by taking precautions. The primary safety measure is wearing a life jacket and having an adequate amount of PFDs (Personal Floating Device) while making sure that children are wearing life jackets that fit them correctly. It is also critical to have a boat operator who has completed a boating safety course since this can avoid over 70% of boating fatalities leading to drowning and other boating-related incidents. While having fun on the boat with your family, it is advisable to avoid alcohol entirely because it has been a direct or indirect contributing factor in 25% of all boating and drowning fatalities. Other suggested safety precautions include checking the weather before sailing, adhering to marine navigation laws, and having the vessel inspected for safety. Following all precautions can save your loved ones from drowning. If someone is drowning and is brought to the shore, it is critical to learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) because bystanders are the first to aid a drowning victim, and knowledge of CPR can reduce the severity of injuries, improving chances of survival and even saving lives.

This summer, make sure you and your family have a boating experience that will be remembered fondly rather than as a fatal nightmare. It is a question of being informed and preparing ahead of time so that boating safety becomes second nature. Remember, “Prevention is better than cure.”

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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