Johnson Attorneys Group has compiled the following summer water safety guidelines to help families prevent accidents and ensure everyone has fun.
Whether your family plans to swim at a lake, head to the beach, or operate a boat, there are potential risks that can be mitigated with planning and precautions.
The top concern for water activities is drownings.
Drowning is mostly preventable, however, it remains the number one cause of death for children ages one through 4 years old, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Older children are also at risk even if they can swim. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14 years old.
Every day there are 11 drowning deaths each day in the United States and 22 non-fatal drownings resulting in injuries such as brain damage and other disabilities, the CDC reports.
Whether you are a good swimmer or a beginner, make sure there is a lifeguard on duty before entering the water. The safest beaches and swimming pools are ones protected by lifeguards. Indeed, the United States Lifesaving Association estimates that only one in 18 million people will drown on a beach protected by USLA-affiliated lifeguard.
California Boating Accidents
Boating is a popular water activity in California. Indeed, out of the 11.8 million registered recreational vessels nationwide, 645,951 are in California, according to 2020 statistics. Also, the Golden State ranks fourth behind Florida, Minnesota, and Michigan for the most registered recreational vessels
In California, there were 593 reported boating accidents in California in 2021 including 44 fatalities and 256 injuries, according to the annual California Boater Card Report. In the United States, there were 636 boating fatalities in 2022, down 3.3 percent from the 658 deaths in 2021, according to the United States Coast Guard. This breaks down to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels nationwide. There was also $63 million in property damage from collisions and fires.
The top five factors contributing to or causing a boating accident are operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure, the US Coast Guard said. Also, a staggering 75 percent of all boating deaths was due to drowning and 85 percent of them were not wearing a life jacket. Furthermore, roughly half of all boating deaths were in open motor boats.
Boating Under the Influence
The California Harbors and Navigation Code 655 is best known as Boating Under the Influence or a BUI. It is a crime in California to operate a boat, sailboat, personal watercraft or jet ski, or any other vessel if the driver has taken drugs or has alcohol in their system above a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
Indeed, boating and alcohol do not mix. Just take a look at some of the consequences drunk boaters face if they are arrested, according to California State Parks, Division of Boating and Waterways. Read more on the state’s Alcohol Consumption Chart.
Here are some key tips for summer water safety:
- Supervision: Adults should never leave children unattended near the water. Whether your child is a good swimmer or a beginner, make sure someone is watching the water at swimming pools and on the beach. Enroll children in swimming lessons and junior lifeguard programs.
- Follow rules at swimming pools: Make sure children are instructed to follow safety rules at swimming pools such as no diving in shallow areas, no running, and no unsupervised swimming.
- Beach precautions: Swimmers at the beach should pay attention to warning signs, flags, and listen to lifeguards. Warnings are often posted about rip currents and water conditions.
- Lifejackets: Regardless of your swimming skills, wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times when boating, kayaking, or participating in any water sports
- Boat Safety Course: Take a boating safety course that meets the National Boating Education Standards.
- Boating accident report: File a boating accident report if there is damage above $500, disappearances, deaths or injuries that require more than first aid.
- Boating Under the Influence: Avoid alcohol and drugs: Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during water activities. They can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents.
- First Aid and CPR: Basic first aid techniques and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save a life if there is an emergency.
Remember, water safety is a shared responsibility, and everyone should play their part in preventing accidents and promoting a safe environment. However, if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, a dangerous condition or boating accident, contact Attorney James Johnson at 1-800-235-6801 to discuss your potential claim.
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