What to do if you are in a boating accident

What to do if you are in a boating accident
Marine Police say rule number one is to keep life jackets out and where you can reach them if you're not going to wear them. (Source: {WBRC})

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It was a deadly Independence Day weekend across the state.

Many accidents happened after dark. No matter what time of day, troopers want to make sure you stay safe on the water.

“It’s been tragic all around. I’ve been doing this for 24 years, I’ve never seen the kind of tragedy that we had over such a short period of time before,” says Captain Gary Buchanan with ALEA Marine Police.

Through it all, he can’t stress enough the importance of life jackets. Most have them in storage on the boat, but that might not be good enough.

He says if you’re not going to wear it, at least have it close at hand. In an emergency, you’re not going to have time to search for it.

“If something happens, grab your life jacket if you’re not already wearing one, put it on, stay with the boat. Make sure you’re safe before you try to locate other people if you should end up in the water. But try to avoid that incident to begin with.”

Just as important, keep track of where you are. For many boaters, this may be your first time in the area. But knowledge of where you are could help in a crisis.

“It helps to familiarize yourself with the area so you can give information to a 911 dispatcher that’s going to help locate you.”

Call 911 as soon as possible and describe what’s happened. Buchanan advises not to panic, since you could make a bad situation worse. And always, think before you drink.

“Alcohol was involved in most of these incidents over the weekend. Even if you’re going to be a passenger in a boat, to not overdo what you drink.”

And of course a boat is a different kind of vehicle, you don’t have seat belts or airbags, so something that could be a minor accident in a car could be a life or death situation on a boat.

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