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Boating, Alcohol and Water Safety

Operating a boat is at least as complicated as driving a car and a boating accident can be just as dangerous as an automobile accident. Yet many people who would never drink drunk think it's safe to operate their boat after drinking. It isn't. In fact, 50% of all boating fatalities are alcohol related. Operating a boat while intoxicated is illegal and dangerous.



Most states define impairment at .10% Blood Alcohol Content (B.A.C.). However, even lower levels of blood alcohol may affect a person's balance, vision or judgment. This can be especially dangerous when on the water.

BALANCE....... Alcohol impacts an individual's sense of balance. A moment of dizziness or even a mis-step may not cause any harm on your patio or in a restaurant, but it can lead to disaster on the water.

VISION........ Safe boating requires good vision and too much alcohol can seriously restrict your vision. It can create a "tunnel vision" effect, reducing peripheral vision. It can impair your ability to "focus" on objects and it can reduce your night vision, especially for reds and greens.....the colors of running lights.



Q- Why do some people get tipsy on just one or two drinks?

A- A number of things can influence how alcohol affects you. Drinking on an empty stomach, when your tired, tense or medication can all increase alcohol's effects. How fast you drink and the amount of alcohol in your drink can also affect alcohol's impact.

Q- What's the fastest way to sober up?

A- There are no shortcuts. Cold showers, hot coffee and other "remedies" won't make up sober. Only time will do that. All you can do is wait.

Q- How soon after drinking can a person drive?

A- There's no easy answer-Remember, your body can process about one drink in an hour, so pace yourself.



Take a boating safety class offered by your local Power Squadron, Coast Guard Auxiliary or Red Cross.

Know your boat's load limit, and don't exceed it. A safe boat is a well-equipped boat. Always carry the necessary safety gear.....and know how to use it.

Knowing how to swim just makes good sense if you spend time on the water. If you don't know how, LEARN. However, even good swimmers do not always survive the shock or panic of sudden immersion in cold water.

Keep lifejackets visible and accessible.......and never make someone feel uncomfortable if they choose to wear a life jacket.

Learn "the rules of the road".....and obey them!

Don't overdo your boating fun. In 3 hours of normal boating, the noise, motion, sun, wind and glare can frequently double an individual's reaction time.

Remember, while a drink or two can relax you and make your day more enjoyable, they may also slow your reaction time, reduce your coordination, and increase your susceptibility to hypothermia.



Moderation and common sense should dictate how much alcohol is consumed on your boat. Limit your consumption to one drink (or less) per hour. The best policy is to wait until you're anchored for the day before enjoying alcoholic beverages aboard.

Ideally, the helmsman should not drink. A responsible boat owner will never allow a person under the influence to operate the boat.

Alcohol affects your judgment. It makes you think you can function better than when you are sober. But in fact, alcohol slows your reaction time considerably.

Hard liquor may hit a little harder or faster than beer or wine-especially if it is not diluted...but too much beer or wine can be just as bad as too much liquor.

Know how much you're drinking. Even moderate drinkers may be drinking more than they think if they aren't measuring their drinks. If you're serving mixed drinks keep a jigger handy...and use it.

Images can be deceiving. Some drinks can be stronger than you think. A daiquiri can have more than twice the alcohol than a beer or whiskey and soda. Know what you're drinking....and know when to say when.




Posted to: Watercraft and Boating Insurance


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