For the past 57 years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the United States Coast Guard, and the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety have published a report that contains statistics about recreational boating accidents. The 2015 report was just published and the bad numbers are up across the board.
It’s an extensive report of:
- Accident causes and conditions
- Accident types
- Operator/passenger information
- Casualty summaries
- Boat registration data
It’s well worth reading to learn from others’ mistakes and it’s quite detailed:
- 82 pages long
- 38 tables of statistics
- 16 charts
In a nutshell, the Coast Guard recorded 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents in 2015. Those figures involved vessels of all types.
Most of the accidents that had casualties involved motorboats and personal watercraft, which is no surprise to most skippers. Readers of this blog will be most interested in the accidents that involved sailboats.
Sailing is a comparatively safe sport. Speeds are slower and it requires more skill to pilot a sailboat. We’ve earned a good safety record but it’s not perfect and we can all learn lessons from this year’s report.
To make it easy to glean and remember the most important points for sailors from this year’s report, I created the following poster. It reflects only the data from the report that is related to sailboats; our own report card, if you will.
What you should take away from this is:
- Too many people die in sailing accidents every year, including many children. Be a safe skipper.
- Many more people suffer life-threatening injuries. Sail responsibly.
- Know how to recover a crew member from cold water quickly. Be prepared.
- You’re as likely to have an accident with another boat as anything else. Don’t assume the other guy will do the right thing.
- Most accidents are caused by somebody not paying attention. Always keep watch.
- Everyone should wear a personal floatation device to cut their risk of drowning in half. Be smart, not stubborn.
You can download your own copy of the report for free here.
You may freely distribute this poster anywhere you want without my permission. In fact, PLEASE DO. Put it on your club’s website, post it on your Facebook page, print it out and pin it up on your marina’s bulletin board, wherever. To make it even easier, I’ve added a printable PDF file to my Downloads page for the subscribers of this blog. Want to subscribe? Read on.
Let’s all help raise awareness about sailing safety and let’s start onboard our own sailboats.
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