Boating accident claims increase in frequency by 45 percent during the summer months, according to a recent analysis of claims incidence at Travelers personal lines, a member of St. Paul Travelers.
“Substantially more people are on the water during the warm-weather months of June, July and August, so that is the time boaters should be extra careful to protect their family, friends and watercraft from a loss,” said Chantal Cyr, director, Travelers Boat and Yacht.
As a provider in boat and yacht insurance, Travelers recommends the following tips in honor of Boat Safety Week, May 21-27.
* Wear a life jacket: 80 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or life jacket. Most states require that children under a certain age wear a life jacket and that every boat be equipped with one life jacket per passenger.
* Take a boating course: Even if one’s state does not mandate the completion of a boating course prior to obtaining their boating license, all will benefit from a formalized course. To learn more about boating safety classes, visit www.cgaux.org/cgauxweb/classes/master.shtml.
* Schedule a vessel safety check: The Coast Guard auxiliary offers free safety checks. For more information, visit www.vesselsafetycheck.org/getvsc or call 1-800-368-5647.
* Equip the boat with an emergency kit and be familiar with how to use each of the items. Travelers recommends including the following: fire extinguisher, first aid kit, visual distress signal and/or a Coast Guard-approved throwable PFD, such as a life ring or a horseshoe. * Organize an emergency plan and make sure that passengers are familiar with it. Remember to test equipment and be knowledgeable of the suggested guidelines for usage and replacement.
* Be prepared for the weather: Check the weather forecast before going on the water and be equipped for changes.
* Know one’s location: The Coast Guard recommends having charts, a GPS (Global Positioning System) and a reliable means of communication on board.
* Know how to contact the Coast Guard: Marine radio is the preferred method to communicate on the water because it broadcasts to other boaters in the vicinity. If using a cell phone on the water, test it for a maritime emergency by dialing *CG (*24). There is no charge or penalty for calling to test the signal.
* Do not drink and drive: According to the Coast Guard, a boat operator with a blood alcohol level of .10 percent is 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than a boat operator with a blood alcohol level of zero. Operating a boat while drinking is illegal in several states. Remember that the effects of alcohol are exacerbated when combined with sun exposure and being on the water.
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