August is a hot month. So was July, and probably September as climate changes seem to be raising the tempretures. With the heat being high, a lot of people are seeking some summer fun with boats and jetskis on the water or rodomg ATVs
to enjoy outdoor adventures. But, remember this: having fun on these types of vehicles can become deadly in an instant. Safety must be a priority concern and should be on your mind at all times. Bad things can happen whether your boat or jet ski is speeding across a body of water or riding an ATV on an off-road adventure, it is crucial to understand and know how to use caution and having smart sense to put safety at the top of your mind.
Summer Safety: Maximize Safety, Minimize Risks
According to recent statistics more than 12 million recreational vessels and 1.2 million ATVs exist in the United States. Clearly, Americans enjoy using these types of vehicles during summertime recreation. In a 2021 report from the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 4,439 boating accidents involving 658 deaths, 2,641 injuries, and roughly $67.5 million damaged property. In another report, The Consumer Product and Safety Commission stated there were 15,744 ATV-related deaths between 1982 and 2018. Of these fatalities, 3,353 were children under the age of 16, which accounted for about one in five tragic deaths. It doesn’t matter if you have experience as an owner or if you are a new to boats, jetskis, or ATV or the like, take a minute to review the risks associated with these popular outdoor vehicles and related activities.
Stay Safe on Boats, Jet Skis, and ATVs
Whether operating a personal watercraft or being towed behind, make the most of the season with these common-sense safety tips
(photo: Life jackets – the simplest life-saving strategy for safe recreational boating.)
- Learn First – Take a course – Operator inexperience is one of the top five reasons for boat accidents, so get educated and be prepared. The U.S. Coast Guard has compiled a list of courses.
- Check the Vessel or Vehicle – The Coast Guard also offers Vessel Safety Checks for free! Download the boating safety mobile app to request a vessel check and more.
- Have Proper Life Jackets – A life jacket designed for canoeing is not sufficient for jet skiing, so have the appropriate life jackets and the right sizes for the activity you’re planning.
- Plan Ahead – Check the weather conditions and avoid lowlight or after dark activites. Pass a detailed “emergency” plan to include someone you know, who can alert authorities if something goes wrong. Don’t get distracted while operating a boat, jetski or ATV as those distractions can be fatal. Avoid distactions like eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, texting, or doing anything that might take your eyes off the road or the water.
- Avoid Alcohol – The Safe Boating Council reminds you that alcohol is the leading factor in fatal boating accidents. It’s best to avoid it for all activities involving a recreational vessel.
When jet skiing:
- Keep the safety lanyard close – Use the ignition safety switch that cuts power to the engine if you fall off. Hook the lanyard to your life jacket or keep it around your wrist at all times.
- Wear your life jacket – Concussions and head trauma are common injuries involving jet skis. Your life jacket will keep you afloat in the event of an accident.
- Follow proper boating etiquette – Avoid sharp turns near another vessel, jumping, following a boat too closely, or chasing other watercraft, as these maneuvers are illegal in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S.
- Be on the lookout – Choppy, high-use water can mask downed skiers, swimmers, and small boats.
- Learn how to stop – Aside from taking a safety course, at the very least, learn how long it takes to stop as it takes longer for a personal watercraft to come to a complete stop.
- Inspect your ATV – An inspection can minimize the chance of being injured or stranded. Download the ATV Safety Institute’s pre-ride inspection checklist.
- Wear the right gear – Always have goggles, long sleeves and pants, over-the-ankle boots, gloves, and a DOT-compliant helmet.
- Ride safely – Drive only during daylight, on designated trails, and at a safe speed.
- Avoid paved roads – ATVs are classified as off-highway vehicles; avoid driving on paved roads except to cross.
- Choose the right fit – ATVs are not one-size-fits-all. Choose one that’s right for your height, skill level, and capabilities.