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Keeping Kids Safe on the Water

Many of us are starting to see our yard turning green, flowering trees, and temperatures that we wish would stay all year. The telltale signs of spring for many outdoor enthusiasts means one thing—boating season is upon us. For those avid boaters, fishermen, and water going lovers there is not much better than a day on the water….until it’s not! Unfortunately, each year boating accidents ruin that perfect day on the water!


Outdoor Adventures, the nation’s premier in-school outdoor education program developed and implemented by the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation, gets kids outside and on the water! The last two issues of American Outdoor News, have featured the survival skills and angling units of Outdoor Adventures (OA). This time we focus on boater education and water safety, another of the most popular units in the class, which can cover as many as 34 different units depending on geographical location and available resources.


The pandemic boosted most outdoor lifestyle industries and boating was no exception. Unfortunately, last year saw over 5,200 reported boating accidents that involved 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries and approximately $62.5 million dollars of property damage. To break down some statistics a little more for you:

  • Where cause of death was known, 75% drowned…that leaves little doubt that simply wearing a United States Coast Guard approved life jacket would have reduced that number greatly.
  • Alcohol use was the leading known contributing factor in fatal accidents.
  • 247 accidents occurred where at least one person was struck by a propeller resulting in 39 deaths—wear the kill switch.


And this is why boater education and water safety are taught as part of Outdoor Adventures:


  • Only 12% percent of the deaths occurred on vessels where the operator was known to have received a nationally approved boater safety education certificate.


Outdoor Adventures K-12 curriculum is taught in nearly 800 public and private schools across 45 states as a physical education course.  Outdoor Adventures teachers work with their state natural resources agencies to assist their students in earning their boating safety education certificate.  By increasing the awareness and overall safety of boating, more lives will be saved.


For parent, grandparents, aunts and uncles consider taking a boater education course even if you fall outside of the age requirements in your state. It could make the difference between saving your life or the life of a family member or friend or experiencing a tragedy.  Even if you don’t take the class, take a few hours and learn the laws and safety rules of boating and paddle sports.  You can find the courses online in all 50 states through your state’s natural resources agency.  Visit the Safe Boating Campaign website by clicking life jacket for more great resources and information.


One of the projects that Outdoor Adventures students do in the boating and water safety unit is create a public service announcement for elementary students. One of the resources students use is the LV Project website Check out the story behind this organization that is all about keeping kids safe around water.

Coming up, May is National Water Safety Month and the website is another one with great information about water safety Kids will be getting out of school and many will be hitting the water with their family and friends in boats, kayaks, canoes, on personal watercraft, or swimming. If the kids in your life have not had a boater or water safety class, please take time to sit down with them, go to one of these online resources and read, or consider taking the boater education class online as a family, through your state’s natural resources agency.