As summer approaches, waterways and lakes fill with boats and watercraft, and with this increased activity comes the potential for accidents. While boating can provide an enjoyable escape, safety should always be a priority.
Understanding the most common types of boating accidents can help mariners navigate safely and avoid hazards.
Recognizing the potential for danger
While better laws and boating education have cut down on fatal incidents, South Carolina boating accidents still lead to several deaths each year. On the water, a moment’s inattention or a simple mistake can lead to serious consequences. The following types of accidents occur frequently on waterways, sometimes with devastating results.
Collisions with other vessels
Mariners often underestimate the speed of other vessels, misjudge their course or fail to maintain a proper lookout. Always stay alert to surrounding boats and observe right-of-way rules.
Capsizing and falls overboard
Capsizing often results from improper loading or handling of the boat. Overloading the boat or unevenly distributing weight can make the vessel unstable. Likewise, careless movement can lead to falls overboard. To prevent these types of accidents, distribute weight evenly and educate passengers about the importance of maintaining balance.
Grounding happens when the boat hits the bottom or runs ashore. It typically occurs when boaters are unfamiliar with the waterway or disregard charts and navigational aids. Mariners can avoid grounding by studying charts before setting out and paying close attention to water depth and underwater hazards.
Flooding or swamping
Swamping can result from high waves, sharp turns or poor maintenance. Regularly inspect the boat for leaks and maintain a working bilge pump to handle unexpected water intake.
Fire or explosion
Fuel leaks and faulty electrical systems can cause fires or explosions on a boat. Regularly inspect the fuel and electrical systems and keep a working fire extinguisher on board.
Injury from propellers
Propeller injuries can occur when passengers are in the water near the stern while the engine is running. Always shut off the engine when people are swimming near the boat.
Boating can be a safe and enjoyable pastime when mariners respect the water and stay alert to potential dangers.