Coast Guard Blog Highlights Dangers of BUI

Boat operators under the influence of alcohol are 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than are sober operators, Aux. David Glaser explained.

A July 24 post on the U.S. Coast Guard's Compass blog reminds readers about the dangers of boating under the influence, an all-too-common occurrence during the summer months in many U.S. states. "Imagine yourself out on the water one weekend with a group of friends. The sun is shining and everyone is having a great time. Someone opens a cooler full of beers they brought with them and before long, everyone has had a few drinks. After a few hours, you all decide to head back towards shore. Everyone has been drinking, but the operator says he is fine and can make it back safely," Aux. David Glaser writes. "On the water, this situation happens on a regular basis. Would you get into a car with someone who had been consuming large amounts of alcohol? Why is it so different on a boat?"

He notes that boat operators with a blood alcohol content of .10 or higher are 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than are sober operators, and the risk of being in an accident also rises for their passengers.

More than 70 deaths and 180 injuries during 2013 were directly attributed to the alcohol consumption while boating, and alcohol is involved in about one-third of all recreational boating accidents, Glaser explained. He listed tips for staying safe and sober on the water:

  • Take along a variety of cool drinks, such as sodas, water, iced tea, lemonade, or non-alcoholic beer.
  • Bring plenty of food and snacks.
  • Wear clothes that will help keep you and your passengers cool.
  • Plan to limit your trip to a reasonable time to avoid fatigue. Remember that it's common to become tired more quickly on the water.
  • If you want to make alcohol part of your day's entertainment, plan to have a party ashore at the dock, in a picnic area, at a boating club, or in your backyard…. Choose a location where you'll have time between the fun and getting back into your car or boat.
  • If you dock somewhere for lunch or dinner and drink alcohol with your meal, wait a reasonable time (estimated at a minimum of an hour per drink) before operating your boat.
  • Having no alcohol while aboard is the safest way to enjoy the water — intoxicated passengers are also at risk of injury and falls overboard.
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