By William Feldman
Welcome to Kids Stuff. Today’s column includes information about National Safe Boating Week, which is celebrated in 2011 from May 21 to 27.
With summer fast approaching, I thought this would be a great time to remind everyone about water safety. After all, Memorial Day is considered by most to be the beginning of the recreational boating season. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is teaming up with other boating safety organizations to take the boating safety message to the public.
The National Safe Boating Council was organized in September 1958 under the name National Safe Boating Committee (NSBC). It has a membership of more than 330 U.S. and Canadian organizations, all with an interest in boating safety and education.
Boating education courses teach the regulatory and statutory rules for the safe operation and navigation of recreational boats, according to the NSBC Web site, http://www.safeboatingcouncil.org
Here are some important statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/features/BoatingSafety) and the boating industry (http://www.boating-industry.com/output.cfm?id=2745955):
• In 2008, 3,330 people were injured, and more than 700 died, in boating incidents. Of those who drowned, 90 percent were not wearing life jackets.
• In 2008, 72 percent of fatal boating incident victims drowned.
• Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents.
ull; In 2009, the Coast Guard counted 4,730 recreational boating accidents involving 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million of property damage.
• Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not wearing life jackets.
From the above statistics, one can sadly see the numbers have increased slightly. The numbers should be decreasing.
HOW TO AVOID TROUBLE
Tips for preventing boat injuries and deaths:
1. When properly fitted, life jackets can reduce drownings and should be used by all boat occupants.
2. Avoid alcoholic beverages while boating. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Alcohol involvement was a factor in about 25 percent of all reported boating deaths, which show another sin of drinking and driving.
3. Complete a boating education course. However, educational requirements do vary from state to state, so make sure you know the law — and obey it! More than 40 percent of reported incidents in 2005 involved operator control. The primary causes of incidents were carelessness, operator inattention, operator inexperience and unsafe speeds.
4. Participate in the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program, a free public service provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron volunteer organizations promoting boating safety. The vessel examiner is a trained specialist and member of the United States Power Squadrons or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Volunteers check safety equipment and provide information about equipment purpose, safety procedures and applicable regulations.
For more information on the VSC program, visit www.vesselsafetycheck.org on the Internet.
5. I am still in shock from reading that an individual can get carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning on a boat. I always assumed this harmful gas only affected people inside a home or car. I never thought of this danger on a boat or water vessel, but it’s real.
BEWARE THE UNKNOWN KILLER!
All internal combustion engines emit CO, an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas. In the early stages, the symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to seasickness, and CO can kill in a matter of minutes.
Significant CO poisoning can include the use of air conditioning powered by an onboard motor generator; operation of any gasoline-powered engine while docked and/or rafted with other boats’ operating engines; swimming or floating near an idling boat engine; or being in the cabin of the boat, underwater, with improper ventilation.
To avoid CO poisoning, be aware of the risk, ensure sufficient ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment, and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas.
Keeping the waterways safe is crucial for all boaters. In fact, it’s so important that there is a boat safety pledge that individuals can fill out every time they go out on the water. Maybe this pledge concept — as well as the one concerning the dangers of texting and driving — will be introduced and administered to all high schools and colleges nationwide as a friendly reminder. After all, you are the only one that can control your actions.
The U.S. Coast Guard, in its role as the designated National Recreational Boating Safety Coordinator (http://www.uscgboating.org), is a wonderful resource, too. Their mission is to “minimize the loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental impact associated with the use of recreational boats, through preventive means, in order to maximize safe use and enjoyment of U.S. waterways by the public.”
For the sake of public safety, people of all ages should clip out the pledge card on this page, and always honor your pledge!
If you want to print the pledge right from the Internet, visit www.safeboatingcouncil.org/pledge/index.htm
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Answer to the cryptogram in my last column:
LIKE THE COMMERCIAL STATES, YOU HAVE TO LOVE THE ARTS IN PHILADELPHIA
Columnist William Feldman can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.orgEndFragment