video calls availableFree Consultation
Get a Free Consultation
Florida Attorneys Karina Perez Ilić and Silvia Amador Brett sitting at table in front of red brick wall

Water Sports Accidents and Statistics

Get a Free Consultation
Posted on August 21, 2013

Updated on October 11, 2013

Encouraged by year-round sunshine and warm weather, water sports and activities are common for Florida residents and tourists. As temperatures climb in summer months, involvement in water recreation activities including boating, parasailing and kayaking increases as well.

Unfortunately, water sports and boating activities also present relative dangers. Each year, carelessness and operator inexperience contribute to drowning deaths and serious anoxic brain injuries for those who survive drowning accidents. Our personal injury law firm in Tampa has seen first hand how dangerous these activities can be when participants (and others) fail to take the necessary safety measures.

Boating and Water Sports Accident Statistics

Unintentional drowning is the fifth leading cause of accidental deaths in the US. Below are statistics related to this type of accident:

  • One in five people who die from drowning each year are children ages 14 or below
  • 50% of drowning injury victims treated in emergency rooms required special follow-up care
  • Brain cells begin to die off after just four minutes of oxygen deprivation
  • Inexperience and speeding are responsible for 96% of all PWC (wave-runner) accidents
  • PWC renters are 25% more likely to experience an accident than owners
  • In 2012, 651 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries resulted from recreational boating accidents
  • 85% of drowning fatality victims were reported as not wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device
  • Seven out of ten drowning victims were associated with vessels under 21 feet long

Water Sports Safety Tips

Training, education, and adherence to safety standards can help reduce the amount of water sports injuries each year. Inexperienced renters or new owners of boats, PWC, or kayaks should implement a few basic precautions to prevent serious accidents from occurring.

1. Learn How to Swim: Basic swimming ability will prepare an individual when engaging in any water-related sports or activities. This skill can also prevent a person from panicking if he/she should fall in the water. Panicked swimmers can also pose a danger to anyone attempting to pull them to safety.

2. Wear a Life Jacket / Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Strong swimming ability is not exemption from wearing a life vest. Most PFDs are designed to keep a person’s head above water if he/she is rendered unconscious.

3. Don’t Go Alone: Avoid boating, kayaking, or riding a PWC alone. Take a friend or set out with a group. If you must go out onto the water alone, set a sail plan just like a pilot sets a flight plan. Friends or family should be made aware each time you go out on the water, where you’re going, and how long you expect to be gone. Stick to your sail plan and agree to call someone once you come ashore safely.

4. Avoid Consuming Alcohol: The vessel operator should abstain from alcoholic beverages while on the water. Combined with full sun exposure and greater potential for dehydration, the effects of alcohol on the water have been proven to be more debilitating than on land. US Coast Guard statistics cited that alcohol use on the water as the highest contributing factor to fatal boating accidents.

If you or a loved one is injured and require a Tampa boating accident lawyer, Vanguard Attorneys is here to help. We offer free no cost, no obligation consultations and will ensure your rights are protected. Call 813-471-4444 today and get the help you deserve.



US Coast Guard (PDF) –

Arizona Boating & Watersports –

Wikipedia – PWC-related accidents –