Boating accidents cause catastrophic injuries

Cincinnati's prime location on the Ohio River affords outstanding access to water sports. There are many marinas less than 15 miles from the city that allow boating and other watercraft recreation. Most areas have open slips and fuel docks for convenience.

While people usually associate water recreation with boating, others utilize the water for different purposes. Sharing the waterway and watching for unexpected hazards can help avoid serious injuries. Fatalities can occur when boaters are not vigilant.

Enjoy the river but remain vigilant 

One of the biggest challenges on the Ohio River can come from the variety of crafts and individuals floating on tubes or rafts. Small children splash in the water near the shores or drift a little too far from safety. Sailboats and commercial barges share the water with high-powered speed boats and water skiers. Rowing teams practice in low-profile, lightweight shells. Paddleboats are popular with visitors and residents. Impressive riverboats such as the Belle of Cincinnati provide cruise excursions with upscale dining and starlight dancing on board.

The size difference between vulnerable swimmers, paddleboats, new speedboat owners and large commercial vessels requires vigilance by all water users. Different skill levels and inexperience can create hazards. Novice boaters may move unexpectedly into the path of danger or cross over a swimmer with catastrophic results. 

Follow rules and water safety precautions

Twilight and evening boating makes it harder to see fellow recreationists. People may ignore signs forbidding the use of alcohol or drugs while on the river. Water conditions can change from smooth to choppy without warning. A young female passenger fell overboard recently when sudden waves made the boat unstable. Investigators found alcohol on the vessel. Intense search-and-rescue efforts were unsuccessful.

Summer is rapidly approaching. The top three dangers for river use come from negligent, intoxicated boaters, people who race across the water at high speeds and those who fail to use life jackets. State laws cover a multitude of requirements for safety equipment to be carried in every vessel. Keeping emergency radio equipment aboard watercraft can be a good idea. Boating rules and procedures are in place, and water patrol officers strictly enforce them.

Watch for potential water accidents

People who love water sports can also take measures to stay safe this summer as they enjoy the plentiful lakes and water amenities in the Cincinnati area. They should use defensive caution, watch for erratic boats and whenever possible, swimmers should stay in less crowded areas of the water. Observers may help save lives when they report dangerous speedsters or crafts operated by those who appear mentally impaired from possible substance abuse.

Those harmed due to boater negligence are not without recourse. Boaters are liable when they cause personal injury or property damage by their irresponsible actions. Consequences of water injuries can involve traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, burns, broken bones, severe lacerations, loss of limbs, disfigurement or irreparable damage to vision. While a carefree attitude is part of water fun, it is paramount not to put others in jeopardy through negligence.

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