Boating season is about to kick into high gear on waterways around the state, and officials are urging Indiana swimmers and boating enthusiasts to take the proper precautions to stay safe. A total of 76 people in Indiana died of accidental drowning or submersion in 2014, the latest year the numbers are available. Sergeant Al Bavarska works in marine safety law enforcement. He says most people who drown in a boating or personal watercraft accident would be alive if they had been wearing a life jacket.
“Most of the boaters comply with the law, but their life jackets are either stored, inaccessible and they can’t be reached. If they’re wearing their jacket, that would avoid most fatalities on the water, Bavarska said.
One life jacket is required for each person on a watercraft, and kids younger than age six must be wearing one at all times. On a personal watercraft or jet ski, a life jacket is required for those riding or being towed.
Many boating accidents involve the use of alcohol. Bavarska notes it’s illegal for anyone to operate a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
He says one bottle of beer or can of beer or prescription drugs can affect your operation abilities when you’re navigating on the water, compounded with the sun beating on you, or the cold weather or just a rough sea.]
Before heading out on the water for the season, he encourages boaters to ensure the equipment on their vessel is operating correctly, including the battery, fire extinguisher and navigational lights.