The Schmidt Law Firm has 30 year’s experience, in over 6,000 successful cases of bringing justice to the victims of personal injury and wrongful death. This experience includes a number of cases which have involved water safety, including death by drowning in a swimming pool, death by downing following a boating collision, as well as personal injuries from power boat and canoe accidents.
The Schmidt Law Firm wishes to remind you that, while water sports are a lot of fun, proper safety measures must be employed in order to avoid injuries and/or death.
The following water safety tip appeared in an article entitled “Water Safety Tips to Know” By Melissa Ward in Living Smarter, Summer 1996:
Before you pull away from the dock this summer, make sure everyone who’s climbing on board is familiar with the basics of boating safety.
• Before exploring an unfamiliar lake, inquire about local conditions requiring special attention such as shallow areas, piers, buoys and boat traffic.
• Federal law requires one jacket or vest for each person aboard a recreational boat. The law does not require that the jacket or vest be worn, just wearable. The National Safe Boating Council recommends they be worn, says Elaine Dickinson of the National Safe Boating Council. A life jacket won’t do any good at the bottom of the boat. Sadly, most drowning victims owned approved life preservers but were not wearing them.
• In addition to life preservers, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends carrying the following items on board: First-aid kit; manual pump or bailer, transistor radio; extra fuel; paddle or oar; anchor and line; and drinking water.
• If boating in a canoe, small fishing boat or sailboat, all passengers should wear life jackets. If your boat capsizes, stay with it. Usually it will float. Be forewarned: The shoreline often looks closer than it really is.
• When rescuing someone who has fallen off a boat, do not put yourself in danger. Only trained rescuers should get into deep water with someone who appears to be drowning.
• Alcohol consumption on the part of drivers and passengers is a factor in 50% of all boating fatalities. Alcohol affects judgment and the ability to respond quickly during normal boat operation or in emergencies.
• Boat licensing laws vary from state to state. Many require young drivers to be a certain age or to have completed a specified level of school coursework. A good rule is to closely supervise young drivers who are under the legal automobile driving age.
• Before leaving, give your float plan to someone on shore. Include the names of those on board, destination, boat description, estimated time of arrival and emergency phone numbers.
• Before pulling a waterskier, agree on designated hand signals for instructions such as “speed up” or “slow down.” Make sure everyone on board knows the signals. Carry a fluorescent flag on a stick to signal other boaters that a skier is down.
For information on boating safety courses in your area, call the Boat Owners Association of the United States (BOAT/U.S.) at 1-800-336- BOAT. In Virginia, call 1-800-245-BOAT.
The U.S. Coast Guard provides a boating safe¬ty hotline. Call 1-800-368-5647.