Waterway Danger

Most accidents and fatalities on Oregon's waterways are due to falling overboard, collisions, and operator error/misjudgment, and reckless behavior, according to the Oregon Marine Board.

As summer arrives, people are flocking to local waterways and the Pacific Ocean to enjoy Oregon’s incredible boating opportunities.

Regardless of what’s calling you to the water and the type of boat you’re in, be aware of your surroundings, be prepared, and make good decisions, the Oregon Marine Board advises.

Rivers and the Pacific Ocean (even the surf zone) are the most inherently dangerous, according to the Oregon Marine Board.

It's important to always scout ahead, mind the tide, decide on the safest route and expect the unexpected, the Oregon Marine Board states on its website, adding that most accidents and fatalities are due to falling overboard, collisions, and operator error/misjudgment, and reckless behavior.

“Inexperience and solo operation continue to be a growing trend of boating fatalities in Oregon,” Oregon State Marine Board Boating Safety Program manager Brian Paulsen said. “Planning ahead, boating with others, always keeping a sharp lookout, and wearing a properly fitted life jacket for your boating activity should be at the top of all boaters’ focus.

The Oregon State Marine Board advises boaters to plan ahead and check out the Marine Board’s interactive boating access map. The map displays public boat ramps and local rules for boat operations.

Also, check the weather forecast, water levels, and tides. See if there are any reported obstructions and have the right gear for your boating activity. Boaters can also check the Marine Board’s website to find out what equipment is required based on the size and type of boat.

The Marine Board reminds boaters:

• Boat Sober. Abstain from consuming marijuana, drugs, or alcohol, which impair judgment, reaction time, and coordination and cause dehydration. Boating demands sharp situational awareness.

• All children 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket when underway on all boats (motorized and nonmotorized). All boaters on Class III whitewater rivers are required to wear a life jacket.

• Be courteous to other boaters and share the waterway. Stage your gear in the parking lot or staging area regardless of your boat type. This makes launching faster and everyone around you happier.

• In Oregon, all boaters must take a boating safety course and carry a boating safety education card when operating a powerboat greater than 10 horsepower. Paddlers of non-motorized boats 10’ and longer are required to purchase a waterway access permit.

The Marine Board also offers a free, online Paddling Course for boaters new to the activity.

The Oregon State Marine Board contracts with 32 county sheriff's offices and the Oregon State Police to enforce boating laws and help patrol Oregon's waterways. The Marine Board provides state-of-the-art, hands-on training for marine law enforcement and provides equipment, gear, and funding for patrol boats.

For more information about safe boating in Oregon, visit Boat.Oregon.gov.


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