Submitted by the Washington State Parks
Recent drownings across the state underscore the need for diligence.
As summer heats up, the Washington State Parks Boating Program urges boaters and paddlers to take important steps to safely and responsibly recreate on the water, including wearing a life jacket at all times.
In the last 30 days, 25 recreational boating accidents and five fatalities have occurred across the state.
“We are asking all boat and paddle craft owners and operators to help reduce fatalities and injuries on the water,” said Rob Sendak. “Boaters need to take personal responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of their passengers.”
According to Washington’s recreational boating accident data, in the last five years, trends show most accidents and fatalities happen between May and August, and 75 percent of fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, as of May, boat sales are the highest they’ve been in a decade. Boat rentals have increased, too. Keith Lemley, owner of a local Freedom Boat Club franchise, recently reported a 30 percent increase in boat rentals and a 50 percent increase in new memberships.
The Boating Program offers the following tips as essential steps to recreate safely on the water:
• Get educated and know navigational rules, emergency procedures and basics of safety on the water. Learn more at BoaterEd.org.
• Share a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency. Learn more.
• Always wear a life jacket that is properly fitted and U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Learn more at WearItWashington.org.
• Carry all required safety equipment such as flares, navigation light, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit. Learn more at BoatPrepared.org.
• Stay sober and alert. Learn more at BoatSober.org.
• Follow state and local public health guidelines for outdoor recreation. Be adaptable and flexible to rapidly changing situations. Learn more.
• Be patient at boat launches and other water access sites. If you find the parking lot is full, find somewhere else to go or return home. Learn more at RecreateResponsibly.org.
About the Washington State Boating Program
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission administers the state’s Boating Program, which provides leadership in boating safety and environmental education and outreach. The goal of the program is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of Washington waterways, and keep recreational boating a safe, accessible and enjoyable pastime. For more information on the Boating Program, visit www.parks.wa.gov/boating.