As the summer months arrive, West Virginia residents will flock to local lakes and rivers with their boats, jet skis, canoes and kayaks. Water sports are the highlight of the summer for many people, but as more people head out on the water, the risk for boating accidents also increases.
Boating accidents are often exacerbated by the consumption of alcohol, driver lack of experience operating recreational boats and driver error. The U.S. Coast Guard urges drivers to wear life jackets to prevent or minimize injuries. According to a May 21, 2010 report by CBS affiliate station WOWK-TV in Huntington, 70% of people who die in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
The U.S. Coast Guard also encourages boaters to keep away from locks and dams, as these locations can be hazardous for recreational boats and swimmers. Restricted areas around locks and dams are clearly marked and should be avoided at all times, unless you have authorization to travel through the lock.
Complete Safety Checks to Reduce Risk
To reduce your risk for boating accidents this summer, take a boater-safety course and be sure to have your boat thoroughly checked for safety at the beginning and end of every boating season. When boats sit for long periods of time, corrosion and engine wear and tear can make them dangerous out on the open water.
West Virginia and Ohio boaters can utilize Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) safety checkpoints along the Ohio River to ensure that their boats have all the required equipment on board. These items include life jackets, a fire extinguisher, distress flag, anchor and line, horn and/or whistle.
As always, all authorities discourage boaters from drinking, as most boating accidents involve alcohol. If you have been injured in a boating accident in West Virginia, be sure to contact a reliable personal injury lawyer immediately to protect your rights.