Pontoon Boat Safety
Did you know that May 19-25, 2018, is National Safe Boating Week? We take safety very seriously here at Manitou, and we wanted to share some statistics and tips to to promote pontoon boat safety—not just this week, but throughout the year.
In 2016, there were over 4400 recreational boating accidents, which resulted in 701 deaths, along with an estimated $49 million in damages. Of these accidents, 120 injuries and 47 deaths were reported to happen upon a pontoon boat. Don’t become a statistic—make safety your top priority to ensure a fun, secure trip for everyone!
Top Reasons for Boating Accidents
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s most recent Recreational Boating Statistics Report, the major contributing factors to boating accident fatalities in 2016 were all related to operation of the vessel. The top 5 contributing factors for fatal accidents were:
- Alcohol Use: 282 Accidents, 87 Deaths
- Operator Inexperience: 480 Accidents, 62 Deaths
- Operator Inattention: 597 Accidents, 45 Deaths
- Excessive Speeds: 360 Accidents, 39 Deaths
- Improper Lookout: 475 Accidents, 20 Deaths
Machinery failure was also the #3 contributing factor to all reported accidents, resulting in 323 accidents and 9 deaths.
Boating accidents don’t need to be fatal to be devastating, as accidents can also cause significant injury and property loss. Do your part to ensure safety on the water, whether you’re the captain or a passenger.
Pontoon Boat Safety Tips
- Always have enough age-appropriate life jackets on board for every person in your party. Accidents happen in the blink of an eye, meaning life jackets are better worn than stowed when out on the water. As drownings can occur even when life jackets are worn, make sure to regularly inspect the condition of your life jackets.
- Know your pontoon boat’s capacity so you don’t overload your vessel and risk sinking.
- Create a float plan for each trip—or at the very least, tell someone where you are heading and when you plan to return.
- Make sure your passengers are seated and wearing proper safety gear before taking off.
- Be an attentive and informed operator in all circumstances. If it’s been a while since your last boater safety course, consider brushing up on what you need to know. When using your pontoon for water sports, designate another passenger as your extra set of eyes on the water.
- Don’t drink and boat; just like on the roadways, driving under the influence on the water is illegal.
- Use an anchor when you want your boat to remain stationary.
- Keep an eye out for weather changes. Knowing how to manage your vessel in heavy winds or other intense circumstances is always a smart choice.
- Stay up-to-date with routine maintenance on your boat.
Boat Safety Checklist
Avoid accidents and injuries by keeping a safety checklist, including all of the equipment you need in the case of an emergency. Ensure your pontoon has a fire extinguisher, ring buoy, and first aid kit so that you are prepared. In addition, perform routine maintenance on your pontoon so that the engine, navigation lights, and other systems run smoothly. Before taking out your boat, consider putting together a safety kit that includes items like a pocket knife, radio, battery charger, and extra food and drink.
Download and print our Boat Safety Checklist and to keep as a reminder throughout the season: