Common Causes of Boating Accidents

Common Injuries

Jun 30, 2023


Nothing screams summer quite like a boat ride on the open water; however, boating accidents are, unfortunately, a common summertime occurrence that can spoil your day out in the sun.

Although boating has become a popular leisure activity here in the U.S. — especially around summer holidays like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day — being both a driver and a passenger on a boat doesn’t come without its risks. Boating injuries can be extremely serious, even fatal, if you’re not careful.

If you’re looking for the best care for a boating accident Texas or Colorado Springs has to offer, Complete Care is open 24/7 to help you or your loved ones recover. We are here to help you be aware of the common causes of boating accidents and inform you on what you can do to prevent injury to the best of your ability. 

What are the most common types of boating accidents?

1. Boat collisions

What is the cause of most fatal boating accidents? Boating collisions, specifically caused by drinking and driving, are one of the most common 4th of July injuries and can be fatal in serious cases. Holidays such as the 4th of July typically invite a large sum of people to rev up their boats and head out on the water with loved ones for a fun day. 

A high volume of boats on any body of water can increase the risk of a boat collision, the same way that high-traffic roads can increase the risk of a car accident. More boats on the water equal more boats to possibly collide with. Crashing into another boat can leave passengers with a number of injuries.

The dangers of drinking and driving on a boat

The risk of colliding with another boat is escalated even further when alcohol is involved. We understand that many boating adventures include a refreshing seltzer or beer, but just like you shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car after a few drinks, you should not operate a boat after a few drinks. Drinking and driving is an incredibly dangerous choice and can lead to many accidents including and outside of collisions. If you’re going to drive a boat, save the drinking for when you get back to shore or ensure that you have a designated sober driver.

Alcohol poisoning can be incredibly dangerous on a boat where there is likely not a medical center nearby. This is why we advise you to either drink in moderation, or not at all, while on a boat. Here are some tips for helping a drunk friend who may be showing signs of alcohol poisoning.

2. Drowning

Whenever you are doing any activity that involves a body of water — whether it be a pool, a lake, or an ocean, drowning is always going to be a risk if you are not following safety precautions.

If a passenger on the boat happens to fall overboard, regardless of whether the boat is moving or not, there is a high risk of drowning. This is especially true if the person that fell into the water was not wearing a life vest or was not in possession of any other floatation device. To prevent this as best you can, be sure every passenger is correctly wearing a life jacket while the boat is in motion and have floatation devices on-hand while in the water. As an extra precaution, use the buddy system at all times. 

3. Slips and falls

Similar to workplace injuries, slips and falls are common on boats as well. If water is involved, there is always a risk of slipping, but if it happens on a boat, the injuries can be more severe and can include broken bones, hurt backs, or other injuries.

Slipping on the back deck of a boat, also called the stern, can cause you to fall into the water — or in a serious case, you could come into contact with the propeller which could result in a wide array of catastrophic injuries. 

To prevent slips and falls, wear suitable footwear while on the boat, immediately clean up any spills that may occur, or invest in anti-slip tape for the floor of your boat. It’s also important to keep your boat’s floor clean so that grime does not build up and create a slippery surface.

Common types of boating injuries

The most common types of boating injuries that we see as a result of boating accidents in the ER have a lot in common with the most common car accident injuries. Whether you experience a boat collision or you fall overboard, you could experience any of the following boating injuries.

  • Traumatic brain injuries: Brain injuries can occur in many ways as a result of a boating accident including hitting your head on something during a boat collision (learn more about how to treat a concussion) or a lack of oxygen from being underwater for too long.
  • Lacerations and other wounds: Many severe boating accidents involve contact with the boat’s propeller which are sharp blades that rotate at incredibly fast speeds. Whether the propeller is dormant or in motion, contact could result in deep cuts or similar wounds that will require laceration wound care from an emergency facility. In severe cases, propellers can even cause someone to lose a limb.
  • Muscle strains and broken bones: Just like with any other type of accident, your body can suffer from muscle strains or broken bones by colliding with other objects or people. In fact, even the pressure of the impact from falling forcefully into the water can cause you to be injured.
  • Burns: A person can suffer from serious burns while onboard a ship due to steam, the boat’s exhaust pipe, and even an electrical or mechanical fire. 
  • Heat exhaustion/stroke and dehydration: Although this type of injury doesn’t have much to do with an accident, being exposed to the sun for hours at a time while on a boat could put you at risk for heat stroke and dehydration, two conditions that could land you in the emergency room. Be sure to hydrate, wear SPF and protective clothing, and limit your time in direct sunlight. 

Boating injuries can range from minor to severe depending on the accident’s seriousness, but no matter how minor an injury might seem, it’s always a smart idea to get it checked out by a medical professional.

Seeking care from a boating accident? Seek medical help ASAP.

Boating accidents are easily preventable if you follow all of the necessary safety regulations. However, accidents can happen even if you’re being safe. If you or a loved one sustains any injuries during a boating accident, seek medical help as soon as possible.

If you want a professional to look over your injuries, Complete Care is open 24/7 to provide examinations and treatment for injuries sustained while boating. We have ER locations all over the state of Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs that are ready to help you so that you can get in, get out, and get back to your boating adventures.

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