May 16-22 is National Safe Boating Week

The U.S. Coast Guard/Coast Guard Auxiliary officially kicks off the boating season with National Safe Boating Week, which is being observed May 16-22 this year. While starting off under the burden of the COVID-19 virus, at least this year the river is below flood stage, so far. The lower water levels do not mean boaters can relax their attention to safety on the water. The normal year-round hazards still remain.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division, each year more than 70 million Americans participate in recreational boating activities on the nation’s waters including lakes, rivers and coastal waters. The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division publishes some interesting statistics:

• Since 1971 the estimated number of recreational boats has doubled while at the same time the number of reported boating casualties (deaths and injuries combined) has been reduced by 50%. While this is good news, there is still a major problem: Every year lives of adults and children are lost and many more injured, and the losses due to property damage runs into the millions.
• Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 76% of all fatalities (four out of five people died from drowning).
• Approximately 84.5% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
• Only 14% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, machinery failure and alcohol use are the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
• Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

How can boaters help ensure they are not contributing to these statistics? Take a Boating Safety Course; Get a vessel Safety Check for all vessels, no matter the size; Make everyone on board a vessel wear a life jacket - not just have one available but actually wear it; Do not mix boat operation and alcohol.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, visit

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