July 17, 2019

Avoid a Boating Accident with These Top Tips


Summer in Wisconsin is a time to get outside and enjoy the sun. Many Wisconsinites take advantage of our more than 15,000 lakes and 12,600 rivers and streams. As of December 2018, there were more than 615,000 registered boats in our state. However, fun on the water also comes with risks. Avoid a boating accident and remember these tips the next time you hit the water.

In 2018, there were 87 injuries and 21 deaths from boating accidents. These injuries can vary from cuts and bruises to more catastrophic injuries like paralysis or traumatic brain injuries. It’s important to remember that whenever you’re driving or operating a boat, alcohol should be avoided. With boating, additional safety considerations need to be observed. The top contributing factors to boat injuries were operator inattention or inexperience, equipment failure, skier/tuber/boarder behavior, or careless operation. 

Boats involve a unique safety consideration: water. Small mistakes or moments of inattentiveness can have devastating consequences as a result. For example, imagine hiking or biking through a pristine forest and having to duck underneath a low-hanging branch. No big deal—it brushes your head, maybe snags your backpack, and you move on. Now imagine the same situation in a river. The branch snags your jacket, your canoe/kayak/tube keeps floating, and the branch pulls you underwater. This added element changes a normal, benign moment into a potentially fatal hazard. 

The Wisconsin DNR has mandated that a safety certification is required for all operators born on or after January 1, 1989. In 2018, more than 16,000 certifications were awarded. This class emphasizes basic safety principles that all boaters should follow:

  • Do not drink alcohol before or while boating.
  • Wear a life jacket whenever on the water, whether you’re in the boat or in the water.
  • Check local weather for storms, rain, or wind.
  • Operate at a safe speed, stay alert and steer clear of larger vessels. 
  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales, seatbacks, or outside of protective rails, including the front of a pontoon boat. 

These basic principles will help ensure your summer boating experience is safe and enjoyable!

Have Questions? Contact Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP

If you or anyone you know is injured by someone while boating, please contact Gingras, Cates & Wachs. We specialize in handling your personal injury and getting you back out on the water. 

Nationally Recognized Law Firm