SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Oregon State Marine Board said Thursday that 2022 was a safer boating year than 2020 and 2021, but the number of fatalities is still high.
In 2021, there were 19 recreational boating fatalities, and in 2020, there were 26, which was the highest number since 1993 with 25. 2022 ended with 16 boating fatalities.
Brian Paulsen, Boating Safety Program Manager for the agency says, “Most of the deaths came down to people not wearing life jackets. ”
Eleven fatalities involved non-motorized boats (i. e., rafts, kayaks, SUPs, a canoe and a sailboat without auxiliary power). Five of the motorized fatalities included a PWC and smaller open motorboats. Ten victims out of the 16 were not wearing a life jacket. “Everyone needs to be prepared, no matter where they are boating or how long they’ve been boating, ” says Paulsen. “Accidents happen and no one can predict them. Wearing a life jacket will increase your odds of survival. ”
Inflatable life jackets are popular with many boaters, but Paulsen says they are not for everyone. “We investigate incidents where life jackets fail to inflate. What we generally find is that the particular owner didn’t service the life jacket properly or even it wasn’t armed with a CO 2 cartridge. ”
Paulsen adds, “Inflatable life jackets are machines that must be tested and maintained. Every person who uses an inflatable should routinely test it to make sure it’s working correctly. There are also hybrid existence jackets available with foam flotation and an inflation mechanism. Hybrid life overcoats provide immediate flotation if you fall overboard and if you need more flotation for that conditions, you can manually activate the pumpiing. ”
Another popular sailing trend is stand up paddleboarding. Stand up paddleboarders (SUPs) may not know the importance of wearing the appropriate leash for your water dynamics. For example, the Marine Board and American Canoe Association recommend within the quick-release leash on moving water, especially on rivers along with obstructions.
According to Paulsen, a quick-release leash differs from an ankle leash and attaches to the paddler’s life jacket. “For example, if the paddler is on a river with swift current and will be unable to paddle away from a strainer in time, they can pull the release mechanism from their life jacket. This will certainly detach them from the teather which stays with the board so that they won’t get entangled. ” Paulsen adds, “The leash and board may get caught up on the strainer, but the paddler may be able to stay afloat and self-rescue. ”
SUPs are defined as boats by the US Coast Guard and paddlers are required to carry a properly fitting life jacket and sound-producing device, like a whistle. “Safety equipment in boating is just like any other activity, ” says Paulsen. “The right gear at the right time will always be helpful. ”
The Sea Board and access providers continue to see a diversity of boaters in both motorized and non-motorized watercraft on Oregon’s waterways. Paulsen says, “Anyone new to boating is encouraged to take a boating education class to learn about how to become safe through pre-trip planning and preparation. Consider joining a club to learn ways to build skills along with others and don’t boat on waterways that exceed your skill level. ”
Fatalities occurred in all types of waters in 2022, in all types of watercraft. The average age was 43 years old. Three of the victims had been female and 13 were male.
“Before you get on the water, check to see if you have the required and appropriate equipment , check the weather, and always wear the life jacket. Safe sailing is easy if you take the particular time for planning and preparation , ” says Paulsen.