Summer will be here any minute now (well, maybe a little longer than that). But when the ice and snow go away in Alaska, boats will be out in full force in both fresh- and saltwater. Alaska’s United States Coast Guard 17th District released the following regarding boating safety:
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard recognizes the successes of Alaska’s boating safety program with an 80 percent drop in recreational boating fatalities since HB108, Use, Regulation and Operation of Boats, was introduced in 1998.
Boating safety has come a long way since 1998 when there were 38 fatalities; in 2014 Alaska reported seven fatalities. Alaska’s observed life jacket wear rates in the 13- to 17-year-olds’ category are nearly double the national rate. Alaska’s rate for boaters 18 and over is nearly three times the national wear rate.
However, the fatality demographic for non-commercial boaters in Alaska remains consistent:
- Alcohol is reported to be a contributing factor in 25 percent of boating fatalities.
- 90 percent of boating fatalities are adult males.
- 90 percent of boating fatalities occur in boats under 26-feet.
- 83 percent occur due to capsizing or falling overboard.
- 75 percent occur while operating power boats.
- 50 percent of boating fatalities occur in salt water.
- 50 percent of boating fatalities occur in fresh water.
“The U.S. Coast Guard cautions mariners to ‘Boat Sober and Boat Safer,’” said Mike Folkerts, boating safety specialist, Coast Guard 17thDistrict. “Take a boating safety class, file a float plan, keep a means of communication on your person and always wear your life jacket when on deck or in an open boat.”