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Thursday, June 7, 2018

2017 Recreational Boating Statistics - good news and bad news.


The 2017 Recreational Boating statistics are out, you can view them here. There is good news and there is bad news.

The good news first. Paddle sports related deaths are down in 2017 from 2016 by almost 6%. That is actually pretty good news. Yeah, that's all I got. It's pretty good. Not great. 

Okay, the bad news: 76% of fatal boating accidents, the victims drowned. Of those fatalities 84.5% weren't wearing PFD's. 84 percent would have had a better chance - not guaranteed, but far better - of living if they were wearing a PFD. These numbers include all boat types. the vast majority are open motorboats, but second (15% of fatalities) were kayaks.

81 of 94 total fatalities in kayaks were drownings. That is 86% of all kayak fatalities. Now it is possible to drown while wearing a PFD. If it isn't properly fitted your mouth and nose can end up underwater. If you are too tired or unconscious and can't hold your head above water you can still drown. But if you are a paddler, these numbers should scare you. This number goes up to 91% for Stand up paddle boarders! For the love of your own neck SUPers, wear a damn PFD! 91%

Operator inexperience was also a large factor in kayak related fatalities, which translates to, paddlers without enough experience to either competently handle the situation, or recognize that they were in danger were getting killed while paddling. 

Hypothermia was also a factor in a number of fatalities. 

The lessons from this are simple:

Seek instruction and build your skills. Learn to assess danger and don't be afraid to back off. Have respect for the power of wind and water. Dress for the immersion, meaning dress for the temperature of the water, not the temperature of the air. Finally, wear a PFD. 

Now go out there and have fun. Paddle safely.


Note: This data comes from the US Coast Guard, and the full report and all the data can be found here. 

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