Officials urge safety as boating season arrives

With warm temperatures under sunny skies this weekend and next week, authorities are reminding boaters about rules and water-safety tips.

Boating accidents, fatalities

Oregon accidents

• 85 reportable accidents + 4 commercial

• 21 accidents from collisions

• 62 injuries beyond first aid

• 44 boaters did not have boating education

Oregon fatalities

• 19 recreational boating fatalities

• 12 were not wearing life jackets

• 10 were in nonmotorized boats

• 9 were in motorized boats

• 7 in rivers were wearing life jackets – 1 heart attack, 1 entanglement, 2 inflatables not deployed, 1 entrapment pinned against a rock, 1 drowned in the surf, and 1 body not found

• 12 of the 19 victims were 50 or older

• 15 of the 19 victims were the operators

Washington accidents

• 106 reportable accidents

• 59 boaters did not have boating education

• 46 injuries reported

Washington fatalities

• 17 recreational boating fatalities

• 12 were not wearing life jackets

• 12 were in nonmotorized boats

• 5 were in motorized boats

• 10 of the 17 victims were 50 or older

• 12 were in fresh water – 8 lakes and 4 rivers

Source: U.S. Coast Guard with local and state agencies

National Safe Boating Week, aimed at reducing boating accidents and fatalities, begins Saturday. Local, state and federal agencies say dozens of people died in 2016 from recreational accidents in Oregon and Washington, and people should wear life jackets and avoid alcohol and marijuana if they board a boat.

Nineteen people died in Oregon last year in 85 reported accidents, and 17 in Washington from 106 accidents, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Coast Guard. The service is one of six agencies participating in the campaign, including sheriff’s offices from Multnomah and Clark counties, Washington State Parks, the Oregon State Marine Board and the National Weather Service.

High temperatures in the Portland area will peak in the 70s and 80s this weekend and reach 90 on Monday and Tuesday, but the water remains dangerously cold. Water temperatures this week have been in the low 50 degrees, said Levi Read, Coast Guard petty officer 1st class.

Normally, water temperatures reach 60 degrees this time of year, he said. But it may be July before the water reaches that temperature because of the late winter, a good snow pack and late snowmelt, he said.
Cold-water reaction
People should dress for the cold water, not the warm air, especially if they are in crafts that can easily capsize, such as a kayak.

Read said people should remember the “1-10-1” rule if they fall into cold water or see someone in it:

  • People have one minute to get their breathing under control from the initial shock of the cold water. The unexpected shock forces a person to gasp, risking water intake into the lungs and possible panic. Keeping afloat and breathing will be difficult.
  • Within the first 10 minutes, the body begins to push blood to the core to preserve its temperature….

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