Messing around in boats is a popular activity for over 100 million people around the country, nearly a third of the population. Unfortunately, nationwide, on average, 600 people are killed each year in boat-related accidents; of that group, almost every four out of five are due to drowning. 

Most of these mishaps are caused by human error and poor judgement, rather than equipment and the environment, including leaving the life jacket behind. Much like how many motorists that reach a bad end would have survived if they had worn their seat belts, many of the boaters that drown would still be alive had they remembered to wear a life jacket.

The week of May 22 through 28 is still a fair ways off, but it will mark the start of a year-long effort to promote safe boating. National Safe Boating Week, as it’s known, is the result of a partnership between the Coast Guard and its federal, state, and local partners to encourage those that go out on the water to do so in a way that is both fun and safe. At last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting in Westmoreland County, the board unanimously passed a proclamation to that effect.

The proclamation urged those that go boating to remember their life jackets and have the rest of their safety equipment checked by the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“Safe boating begins with preparation,” the proclamation states. “The Coast Guard estimates that human error accounts for most boating accidents and that life jackets could prevent nearly eighty-six percent of boating fatalities. Through basic safety procedures, carrying lifesaving emergency distress and communications equipment, wearing life jackets, attending safe boating courses, participating in free safety checks and staying sober while navigating, we can help ensure boaters in America’s coastal, inland and offshore waters stay safe through the season.”

More information on safely traveling the waterways of America can be found at www.safeboatingcouncil.org.