News Release 11-044
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
1111 Israel Road S.W., P.O. Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650, (360) 902-8500
Don Hoch, Director
Jim French, (360) 902-8842
Lynn Satre (360) 902-8837
Wash. Telecommunications Relay Service:
State Parks reminds boaters to be safe at Seattle Seafair
Aug.4, 2011 –
Seafair is this weekend, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission encourages all boaters to boat responsibly and be sure to have a designated sober and qualified skipper on board.
Just as with driving a car, alcohol use while boating can lead to impairment of critical senses needed to avoid boating accidents. Alcohol slows reaction time and diminishes decision-making abilities in boaters, leading to boating accidents and fatalities.
The U.S. Coast Guard recently released their 2010 boating statistics noting alcohol was a contributing factor in at least 1 in 5 boating accidents. The data shows the total number of alcohol-related boating deaths in Washington state for the past five years ranked among the top five highest in the nation.
According to Washington State Parks Boating Programs, data from 2004 to present shows alcohol has been a factor in at least 30 percent of the 169 people killed in boating accidents in Washington, including 5 of the 11 boating deaths in 2011.
“It’s important to realize alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time,” says Sgt. Jim Robarge, Mercer Island Police Department. “It will increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold water immersion. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion – all common stressors in the boating environment – intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and even some prescription medications.”
Local authorities insist that enforcing boating under the influence (BUI) laws is just as important to public safety as enforcing drunken driving laws. Boat operators may be cited and/or arrested and escorted off the water if their blood alcohol concentration exceeds the state limit of .08. Several marine law enforcement agencies will be conducting BUI patrols this weekend during Seafair, where heavy boating traffic makes safe boat operation a must.
Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into a tragedy of a lifetime. Boaters should consider these tips to avoid BUI:
• Take along a variety of cool, non-alcoholic drinks.
• Bring plenty of food and snacks.
• Wear clothes that keep you cool.
• Plan to limit your trip to a reasonable time to avoid fatigue. Remember it's common to become tired more quickly on the water.
• If you dock somewhere for lunch or dinner, steer clear of alcoholic drinks.
• Having no alcohol aboard is the safest way to enjoy the water — intoxicated passengers also are at risk of serious injury and falling overboard.
• Spread the word about the dangers of BUI. Many recreational boaters forget that a boat is a vehicle and safe operation is a legal and personal responsibility.
For more boating safety information, visit, www.boat.wa.gov or call (360) 902-8555.
The Commission manages a diverse system of more than 100 state parks and recreation programs, including long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation. The 98-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
Washington State Parks is now on Twitter at WaStatePks_NEWS and YouTube at WashingtonStateParks.