Boating Safety Tips

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As spring gives way to summer, our thoughts naturally turn to outdoor summertime activities such as recreational boating. "But, waterways are second only to highways when it comes to accidental deaths, and a major contributing factor in recreational boating casualties is alcohol," says Sheriff Mike Tregre.

He added, "Boaters need to remember that alcohol and boating do not mix. Alcohol affects your balance, vision, judgment and coordination. It is ten times more likely that a boat operator with a blood alcohol content of .10 will be killed in a boating accident than a boater with zero blood alcohol content."

Research has shown that alcohol, combined with boating stressors, such as sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion, can impair a person much faster than alcohol consumed on land. It impairs your ability to operate a vessel safely in the same way that it impairs your ability to drive a car safely.

The Sheriff says, "Balance is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol, and when you combine this with the rocking of the boat, the chance of falling overboard increases."

Dehydration is also a factor. The sun causes you to perspire, which removes the water from your body but leaves the alcohol in. This can cause impairment to occur even faster.

Sheriff Tregre said there are several myths that boaters should know:
Beer is NOT less intoxicating than any other alcoholic beverage.
Only time will sober a person, NOT black coffee or a cold shower.
It is NOT easy to tell if someone is impaired. Many experienced drinkers can hide
their impairment.
You are NOT the best person to judge if you are fit to drive. Your judgment is one of
the first things you lose when you drink.


To promote safe boating in St. John the Baptist Parish, the Sheriff offers recreational boating enthusiasts tips to help keep them safe on the water:
DO file a float plan; tell people when you are leaving, where you are going and when you are returning.
DO check the weather forecast before you go and bring a radio to regularly check weather reports.
DO wear a life jacket. Life jackets float, you don't.
DO observe the nautical rules-of-the-road.
DO keep a good lookout.
DON'T mix alcohol and boating.
DON'T stand in a small boat.
DON'T overload your boat.

The Sheriff concluded, "We are blessed with some of the most beautiful waterways, and boating is very much a part of our lives. Remember to chart a safe course by boating safe and sober."

SOURCES: U.S. Coast Guard
National Safe Boating Council
USA Today; "Drunken Boating Targeted," July 2, 1998.



Date: May 30, 2013


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