Every boater knows that safety is of the utmost importance. It is necessary not only to protect the lives and wellbeing of those on board the boat, but also to protect the owner’s investment in the boat and equipment itself. As such, responsible vessel owners purchase boat insurance to provide financial protection against injury and damage, and also insist that their passengers follow basic safety rules while on board. Despite these factors, however, a staggering number of individuals participate in boating and other water sports without wearing their life jackets.
According to the United States Coast Guard, as many as 85 percent of drowning victims of recreational boating accidents in 2012 were not wearing proper USCG approved life vests. It’s possible that the vast majority of all drowning could have been prevented, had owners and passengers simply followed safety rules in regard to boating and life jackets. Here are some things that you need to know in order to keep yourself and your passenger’s safe while out on the water:
US Coast Guard requirements state that each boat must have a USCG-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person on board. In addition, boats over 16 feet in length are required to carry one Type IV throwable rescue device. In order to be effective, a life jacket must be worn at all times and be fitted to the passenger. Children should not wear adult life jackets. Boat owners should test each life jacket once a year to ensure that it is buoyant and in good working condition.
If life jackets are not worn at all times while on a boat, they should be stored in an easily accessible location. This will allow passengers to access and don their life jackets in a moment’s notice in the event of an accident or capsize. Life jackets should be stored under a boat’s seats, or in a dedicated life jacket box. They should not be kept in closed compartments or in bags, and they should not be stored with other equipment, as doing so will impact their accessibility.
Each state has its own laws regarding life jackets, especially in regard to minor passengers. In order to ensure that your boat insurance is valid and that all passengers on board are safe, take the time to review your state’s specific life jacket laws and follow the laws every time you are on the water.