Like many of you, I enjoy a cold beer while fishing on my boat, especially on a beautiful hot day. During the summer it is normally when we go to the beaches, lakes and rivers to cool off and play. A good cold drink seems essential. The truth is that a very high percentage of boating and fishing accidents are due to mistakes made while intoxicated or under the influence. Although we feel great, our judgment is affected, we are not thinking clearly. Water safety is important and needs our clear attention. Even with a clear mind, mistakes happen and people drown. Drinking or using drugs only increases the chances. When it comes to our children or friends, do we really want to take a greater risk than the one that already exists?
According to the USCG, one-third of all recreational boat deaths involved the use of alcohol. It is illegal to drink while operating a boat. It’s called BUI, sailing under the influence. This law includes all boats, from canoes and rowboats to the largest boats. Penalties range from hefty fines, loss of boat operator privileges, or even jail time.
You don’t have to be in a boat to make a mistake with water safety. Beach parties and picnics along the coast still offer an element of danger. Of course I have no right to tell people not to drink alcohol while partying on the beach or wherever. I can only remind all of us that if we drink in the ocean, lake, river, or even in our backyard pool, the risk of accidents increases. We all have to choose our priorities in these situations. How do we balance our fun with safety?
The easiest way is simply not to drink or do drugs. We may feel that it is not safe to drink when we are in a position to protect our children. This would include home pools. the oceans and lakes. We could test what drunk drivers suggest and have a designated observer take the initiative to maintain safety while we play in the water. We might think these things, but the reality is that we are still partying around the water and creating a large percentage of water related accidents.
I consider this to be a problem that is not easily solved. Only when people decide that water safety for us and our children is more important than receiving a rumor will the numbers decrease. Trust me, I’m not holding my breath waiting for this to happen.