Boating Safety

Boating safety tips from ANTHC

During the summer months, our Alaska Native people will spend more time on the water – whether it’s on boats or shores, fishing or for recreation. However, every year, water related accidents and fatalities affect our Native community.

Facts about drowning

  • Cold water immersion is the leading cause of drowning injuries and deaths. Even the strongest swimmers cannot fight the effects of Alaska’s cold rivers, lakes and oceans.
  • On average, 17 Alaska Native people drown each year. About half of Alaska Native drowning victims are ages 30 and under.
  • Alaska Native men are six times more likely to drown than Alaska Native women.
  • 9 out of 10 drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
  • 5 of 6 drowning incidents followed a capsize, swamping, ejection or fall overboard into Alaska’s cold water

Stay safe: Preventing drowning and cold water immersion

Whether you’re traveling, hunting, or just having fun on the water, you can help protect everyone on your boat by following safe boating practices. Boat owners or operators are responsible for the safety of themselves and those in their boat.

Follow these safety tips this summer and whenever you’re on the water:

  • Ensure the whole family has access to and uses flotation devices when near water
  • Keep young children away from water unless supervised by an adult
  • Always wear a life jacket when in an open boat or on an open deck, regardless of weather, boating experience or swimming ability
  • Attach the engine cut-off device when underway, especially when boating solo
  • When boating, carry an emergency signaling device to notify rescuers, such as a whistle or GPS.
  • Equip boats with at least one means of re-boarding (e.g. swim step, ladder, foot sling)
  • If boating, file a plan so someone knows where you are and when you are expected back
  • Have your family members attend a water safety class such as those provided by AMSEA or the Alaska Office of Boating Safety

For more information on water and boating safety, contact ANTHC Injury Prevention at (907) 729-3799.

Other resources:

Office of Boating Safety
Pledge to Live
Origins of the Float Coat Song
How to do the Float Coat Song
Healthy Traditions: The Float Coat Song and Boating Safety photo essay in Mukluk Telegraph