It’s a dangerous world and summer is its most dangerous season.
Already this summer we have far too many fatal accidents on land and at sea. Our waterways and highways are crowded with people in search of a good time.
Take a moment, take a deep breath, and make sure everyone in your watercraft or vehicle is as safe as possible.
Boaters need to hear these words from dive-rescue team member Vincent Harris, “I have yet to search for a drowning victim that had a life vest on.”
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Statistics bear him out. About 70 percent of boating deaths are caused by drowning.
Of that 70 percent, more than 80 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets when found. Of those drowning victims who were wearing life jackets, most were paddlers trapped under a canoe or kayak, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Operation BoatSmart.
Most of the 80 percent simply fell out of a boat and drowned, BoatSmart says.
A Boat Mississippi Course offers sound advice to help prevent that from happening:
▪ Make sure everyone is wearing a personal flotation device before leaving the dock.
▪ Sit in the seats, not on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or motor cover.
▪ Don’t overload a boat and make sure the load is balanced.
▪ Don’t lean over the gunwale.
There are several boating safety courses available. Anyone born after June 30, 1980 is required to take a course before operating a boat in Mississippi. The state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks offers one. So does the Department of Marine Resources. The U.S. Coast Guard has an app that has safety tips, check lists and safety regulations.
For boaters, the safety procedures they teach should be second nature. But even as this editorial was being written, in came the news of another boating accident, this one on the Biloxi River.
And the highways are even more dangerous. The National Safety Council said 670 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year in Mississippi, contributing to a 10-year high of more than 40,000 deaths on U.S. roads. Clearly, that’s a trend we must reverse. The council said a survey found 83 percent said driving is a concern but drivers continue risky behaviors: drinking and driving, texting and driving, and speeding.
Here on the Coast, we have had a rainy start to the summer, which makes roads even more hazardous. Plus, a major construction project is underway on 1-10, our most heavily traveled road.
So buckle up, slow down, put down that phone and don’t drive while impaired. And remember, summertime will bring out an abundance of teen drivers, cyclists and bikers. So pay extra attention.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.