Boating Safety

Water-Related Activities

When participating in any type of water-related activity it is important to know your limits. In just minutes, even strong swimmers can tire rapidly in cold water and become unable to help themselves. When swimming in rivers, lakes and oceans be aware of swift currents and undertows.

From FY06 -FY10, we lost an average of seven Soldiers per year to off-duty water-related activities and another five Soldiers suffered from permanently disabling injuries during that time-period. During spring and summer months, the potential for accidents escalates with the increased participation in water-related activities. This fiscal year two Soldiers drowned prior to the start of spring.

Water-related accidents can happen to anyone. Nearly half of the fatalities in the last five years involved a Leader.

In the majority of boating and fishing accidents, those who drowned failed to wear a personal flotation device.

It is also important to note that alcohol was a factor in many water–related accidents.

Boating Safety

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, recreational boating casualties are the second leading cause of transportation-related fatalities after automobile/motorcycle accidents.

The overwhelming majority of boat operators who have fatal accidents have never taken a safe-boating course.

The main causes of these accidents are speed, weather and congested waterways. Intoxicated operators cause approximately 50% of all serious boating accidents.

Before you launch a boat, take a Coast Guard-approved boating safety course, review local laws and policies and ensure that you, your buddies and your Family members use a personal flotation device.

In addition, be sure to have a Float Plan. A Float Plan is an itinerary of when and where you plan to go while on the water. It is to be completed before you go boating and given to a person who can notify the Coast Guard or other rescue organization if you fail to check-in according to the plan.

Rip Current Advisory

Rip currents can be killers. The U.S. Lifesaving Association estimates that more than 100 people die annually on our nation's beaches due to rip currents. Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by beach lifeguards.

To avoid and survive Rip Currents:

  - Never swim alone.

  - Be cautious at all times, especially when swimming at unguarded beaches. If in doubt, don’t go out!

  - Whenever possible, swim at a lifeguard protected beach.

  - Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards.

  - If caught in a rip current, remain calm to conserve energy and think clearly.

  - Don’t fight the current. Swim out of the current in a direction following the shoreline. When out of the current, swim towards shore.

  - If you are unable to swim out of the rip current, float or calmly tread water. When out of the current, swim towards shore.

  - If you are still unable to reach shore, draw attention to yourself:  face the shore, wave your arms, and yell for help.

  - If you see someone in trouble, get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard is not available, have someone call 911. Throw the rip current victim something that floats and yell instructions on how to escape. Remember, many people drown while trying to save someone else from a rip current.