Darwin's Boating Safety Tips

9 Darwing Award Winners and the Simple Boatintg Safety Tips that could have Save Their Lives

Staying safe on a boat is very simple. Follow just a few simple rules, and you will have a great afternoon on the water. But fail to use common sense, and you can put your life in jeopardy.

Each year, the Darwin Awards honor individuals who died in spectacularly stupid ways, eliminating themselves and their foolhardy DNA from our gene pool. Here is just a small sampling of some past Darwin Award candidates who could have easily prevented death or injury in boating accidents.



Always wear a lifejacket or PFD (personal floatation device)

Always wear a lifejacket

Why? The majority of drowning victims could have been saved if they took the time to wear a lifejacket. Each person on your boat should wear a PFD that fits them snugly and securely. This simple step really does save lives.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In 2001, a Montana man decided to take part in a new extreme boating sport: "snowmoboating". That's right. He actually used his snowmobile to glide across the surface of the lake, just like skipping a stone across a pond. But this man's hydroplaning adventure ended in tragedy when the snowmobile lost momentum and sank. Sadly, the man wasn't wearing a lifejacket, and drowned within minutes while his friends watched helplessly from the shore.

The Bottom Line: Wearing a lifejacket can save even the most stupid of water sport enthusiasts.

» http://DarwinAwards.com/darwin/darwin2001-37.html

Avoid alcohol

Avoid aclohol

Why? The probability of being injured on the water doubles when alcohol is involved and studies have also shown that the effects of the sun and wind can make you feel as if you've consumed more alcohol than you actually have.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In the mid-1980s, a man sailing on the research ship Regina Maris planned to study whale populations in Greenland. But after a few too many one night he had the inspired idea to try jumping from ice floe to ice floe in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. His drunken idea quickly turned to danger when the ice crumbled beneath his feet. He was eventually rescued, but he might have died if he had stayed in those freezing waters for just a few minutes longer.

The Bottom Line: Don't drink on the water!

» http://DarwinAwards.com/stupid/stupid2009-19.html

Check the weather forecast before heading out

Check the weahter

Why? You need to know what kind of weather you'll be facing. Always check local weather conditions for boating safety before departure- TV and radio forecasts are sources of information.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In 2003, Hurricane Isabel ravaged parts of Virginia. Most Virginia residents knew that the storm was coming...but not "Blumpkin", a university rugby captain who thought it would be fun to take a canoe ride down the river. Winds were gusting at over 50 MPH, and the waters were churning violently...but Blumpkin was undeterred. Poor Blumpkin. If only he had checked the weather before he left, he might have not been caught in the storm that capsized his boat and took his life.

The Bottom Line: If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.

» http://DarwinAwards.com/darwin/darwin2003-13.html

Use common sense and operate responsibly

Use common sense

Why? If you use common sense, you can avoid nearly all boating accidents. Operate your boat at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be courteous of others using the waterways and obey all boating rules. Be watchful of swimmers and other boaters, and always have a spotter for water-skiers and tube riders. Stay alert, be respectful of buoys, and think before you act.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
This tale from the Darwin Awards archives takes place in Logmozero, a village in northwestern Russia. A local man was questioned by the authorities when his neighbors revealed that he was using a World War II aviation bomb as an anchor for his boat. The bomb was in working order, and could have been detonated at any time. The man was lucky to never have accidentally set it off.

The Bottom Line: If you don't have common sense, don't go out on a boat. Oh... and never use a bomb as an anchor.

» http://DarwinAwards.com/stupid/stupid2010-04.html

Learn to swim

Learn to swim

Why? You're going to be out on the water. If you don't know how to swim, you're just asking for trouble.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
We're now on Obonga Lake, 100 miles north of Thunder Bay, Canada. A man took his family out for a boat ride on a hot, sweaty summer day. With temperatures approaching the 90-degree mark, the man decided to cool off by jumping into the lake for a quick dip. There was just one problem: he didn't know how to swim. Why someone who can't swim would dive into a deep lake is a mystery, but since his wife couldn't figure out how to steer the boat over to him, he drowned.

The Bottom Line: Local organizations such as the American Red Cross and others offer training for all ages and abilities - so check to see what classes are offered in your area. Learning to swim is cheap, easy, and could one day save your life.

» http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2002-19.html

Never stand up in your small powerboat, canoe, or similar watercraft

Never stand up in your boat

Why? Standing up can make a small boat unstable, and can even cause it to capsize. Numerous drownings occur when men stand up to urinate over the side of a boat.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In April of 2000, an Oregon man boating down the Columbia River caused his boat to capsize when he stood up too quickly. His companion survived, but the boat's owner drowned after falling in. It probably didn't help matters that the 12 foot boat in question was weighed down with almost 650 pounds of gear, despite the fact that it was rated to hold only 200 pounds.

The Bottom Line: Sit down and shut up. If you want to stand on the water, get a pair of water skis.

» http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2000-25.html

Take a boating safety course

Take a boating safety course

Why? You wouldn't drive a car unless you had taken Driver's Ed...So why would you get on a boat without learning more about basic boating safety? Boater education requirements vary by state- some require validated completion of at least one boating safety course.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In 1999, a woman out in her boat in Lake Isabella, California found herself in trouble. She simply couldn't get her 22-foot Bayliner to drive in a straight line, or to travel at any speed faster than a crawl. She drove up to the marina to ask for help, which is when the marina staff informed this dumb blonde that the trailer was still attached to her boat. If only she had paid attention in boating school, she might have learned that boats don't have wheels.

The Bottom Line: Regardless of your individual state's requirements, it's always important to be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that might arise.

» http://darwinawards.com/stupid/stupid1999-04.html

Don't overload your boat

Don't overload your boat

Why? If you want to stay afloat, you'll need to do a bit of math. Avoid capsizing by following the load restrictions of your craft. This includes not only the number of passengers, but also the weight of your gear.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In 2000, an Australian man met his maker while shooting ducks from his boat. The man was seated on a tiny dinghy this diminutive boat was rated for the weight of three adults. This man, however, had weighed it down with 4 adults, one child, and three large crates of duck ammo.

To reduce the weight, the man had the brilliant idea to throw non-essential items into the back of his car. Unfortunately, his idea of "non-essential" turned out to be the lifejackets and safety equipment. When the boat capsized, the men drowned quickly, as they were also wearing waders that filled with water and acted as anchors. Two adults survived, but the remaining two men and the young child all died that day.

The Bottom Line: Don't overload your boat...unless you have a death wish.

» http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2000-16.html

Don't set off fireworks, firecrackers, or TNT while on your boat.

Don't set off fireworks while in your boat

Why? Come on guys, this is a no-brainer. Explosives and boats just don't mix.

And the Darwin Award Goes to...
In 1998, a man drowned in Fox Lake, Illinois after he and a friend inadvertently blasted a hole in the bottom of their rowboat with a quarter stick of dynamite. The two friends thought it would be funny to kill some fish by detonating an M-250 explosive into the water. Sadly, one of the guys was killed by the blast, although the other was able to swim to shore.

The Bottom Line: Explosives are designed to blow things up. If you don't want to damage your boat or your body, leave the fireworks and TNT to the professionals.

» http://darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1998-07.html