Despite the fact that the number of registered boats has remained approximately the same in the past decade, boating fatalities jumped 12.8 percent in 2011 and are now at the highest level since 1998, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's just released report 2011 Recreational Boating Statistics.
Last year, 533 of the 758 boating fatalities resulted from drowning, with 84 percent of the drowning victims not reported as wearing a life jacket. The Coast Guard is urging recreational boaters to make sure everyone on board wears their life jacket at all times on the water. While there is no guarantee a life jacket will prevent drowning, very few drownings occur while wearing them.
Boaters should ensure that all life jackets fit their intended wearers appropriately. A life jacket that does not fit properly may not support a boater well enough to keep their airway clear of water.
United States Coast Guard maintains records of marine accidents and fatalities. Local enforcement agencies are expected to provide accident reports to the authorities for all fatal boating accidents.
Many argue that boating accidents improperly reflect victims who were actually swimmers, but the US Coast Guard only counts swimming fatality victims if their vessel is not moored or anchored.