I’ve seen it in my neighborhood, and if you live near any of our lakes, you’ve probably seen it too. The last couple of weekends have brought out the boats, driving to boat launches and then driving on the lakes.
Sadly, this weekend also brought our first boating accident death of the year, and it stands as a sober reminder that our fun weekends on the lakes may also turn tragic if people aren’t focused on boating safety.
Several years ago, I represented a lake patrol police officer, and he suggested to me that three simple things really reduce the risk of boating injuries.
The obvious start is to avoid drinking and boating. Not only is drinking and boating as dangerous as drinking and driving, it’s worse. People need to remember that the effects of alcohol are magnified by the sun, being on the water, and the motion of the boat. One drink on the water has the same effect as multiple drinks on land. So avoid drinking and boating.
The next suggestion is to make sure you know your lake. Unseen hazards are big contributor to injuries. That’s particularly true for Lake Travis, a fluctuating level lake, where hazards may be obvious one day and covered the next.
Finally, make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board. Proper use of life jackets could save you from drowning. And knowing how to swim isn’t an excuse. People get in trouble when there is an impact and they’re knocked unconscious or disoriented. Being a strong swimmer won’t help you in those situations, but a life jacket will.
These are not only safety issues, but liability issues. My friend Steve Lombardi, a personal injury lawyer in Des Moines, wrote a blog post a year or two ago that listed all the ways a boater could get in trouble. His post includes a good checklist of boating safety items, including items from your planning of the boat trip to transportation of the boat to time on the water. You can read that post here.
We hope you have a safe boat outing. But if something does go wrong, please call us and let us try to help. You can call us at (512)476-4944 or submit your case usng the submit a case forms throughout the website.