Watch the kids while boating

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Last weekend I had the good fortune to return to my hometown of Annapolis, Md., who many call the &uot;Sailboat Capital of The World.&uot;

Annapolis is a great city, meshing the old with the new in a mix of architecture and commerce in a way rarely found in the United States. Many of the streets are still cobblestone, the tours love to remark that the state house is the oldest in continuous use. It is just a great place to visit.

One of the other joys to returning home is I get a chance to read the &uot;Annapolis Capital&uot; newspaper. The Capital is an institution in the city, and is widely read. This is the paper, as a junior in High School I got my first byline as an intern. It is the paper where I learned about newspapers and eventually had my first column.


Email newsletter signup

The Capital has moved from its original home on West Street out to near Route 50, and the staff has gotten larger, but it is still a great paper.

In Sunday’s edition, an article by Victor Henderson caught my eye, because even though it was written about pools, the application to recreational boating can not be denied. The article discusses parents watching their children at pools. The author provides some wonderful examples to describe some of the reactions children and parents alike have to safety rules and lifeguards.

We live in a much different time then I was raised!

Anyway, Henderson’s message of parents watching their children directly applies to recreational boating.

According to the CDC Web site, the Coast Guard received reports of 5,705 boating incidents; with 4,062 participants who were reported injured and 750 killed.

Most boating fatalities from 2002 (70 percent) were caused by drowning and the remainder were due to trauma, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other causes. (

Another number that is equally somber is from the same CDC Web site. &uot;In 2000 there were 3,281 unintentional drowning in the United States, averaging nine people per day. This does not include drowning in boating-related incidents.&uot;

So what’s the application to boating? Safety of children, and maintenance of a vigilant approach to their safety can not be over emphasized when underway on a boat, or pierside. Everyone reading this column should have a good basic understanding of the unpredictable nature of boating.

Doesn’t matter if you have a sail- or powerboat, boating can be dangerous. As in any situation unsupervised or unattended children may be in the greatest danger. The number of scenarios from falling overboard, to getting a hand or finger caught, to even electrical shock are all possibilities.

It is highly recommended before you get underway, that you do a safety walk through and make sure your boat is as child safe as possible. Think through every possible scenario. As most of you know young children are incredibly bright and the chance to get into a bad situation is very real.

Remember folks, vigilance and preparation are the two keys to safely getting children underway, regardless of the type of vessel you have. It is through this effort that we will keep our next generation as safe as possible underway and on the docks.

Until next week…Boat Safe….Boat Smart!!

Joe DiRenzo is a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and lives in Suffolk. He can be reached at