AUSTIN, Texas — While boating fatalities dropped nationwide in 2007, they climbed in Texas — despite one of the wettest summers on record that closed many lakes and reservoirs for a portion of the boating season.
Texas had 52 boating fatalities in 2007, the highest number since 2002. The overall number of accidents (260) and injuries (181) were up, too, from 2006.
Most of those tragedies were preventable, authorities say, since on average 85 percent of boating fatality drowning victims who drowned were not wearing a life jacket when recovered, and more than 50% of boating and water related fatalities involved alcohol.
With those sobering facts in mind, and the summer boating season gearing up, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its partners are kicking-off the second year of a public education and water safety initiative.
"Nobody’s Waterproof™" is a fun, interactive social marketing campaign targeting 18-to-34-year-old boaters, especially young men, whom statistics show are most at risk. It is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The campaign was developed in 2006 by the LCRA and EnviroMedia Social Marketing, Inc. and has won state, regional and national awards over the last two years. For the second year, through an agreement with LCRA, TPWD is working to expand the initiative outside the Colorado River watershed to other Texas waterways.
The "Nobody’s Waterproof" outreach boat, donated to TPWD by the Britteny Sage Lindt Fund, will be out for special events on Lake Joe Pool and Lake Lewisville near Dallas, Clear Lake and Lake Conroe near Houston, Canyon Lake near San Antonio, and Lake Travis near Austin. Some events will feature shoreline activities co-hosted by partners, including LCRA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Texas Water Safety Coalition, North Texas Water Safety Coalition, Galveston Bay Association, and others.
Nobody’s Waterproof outreach events will emphasize these safety messages:
* Always wear a life jacket in the water and on a boat.
* Alcohol and water don’t mix. Be responsible if you drink and designate a sober driver for both your boat and a safe ride home.
* Always swim with a friend and ask friends/family to watch each other.
* Take a boater education course, either online or in person.
* Drink lots of water to stay hydrated — especially if you are also drinking alcohol.
* Follow boating and water safety rules and obey signs, markers and buoys.
* Have a VHF-FM marine radio or cell phone, GPS or map, proper safety equipment, and appropriate clothing on board or with you on the water.
* Know where you are on the water or shoreline.
"If boaters remember nothing else while they’re playing on Texas waters this summer, we hope they’ll remember "Nobody’s Waterproof — Play it Safe!" Bradford said. "Wear a lifejacket — they even come in smaller models that won’t ruin your tan or be hot and uncomfortable. If you’re going to drink, do so responsibly and designate a driver for your boat and the ride home. "Boat with class. Boating safety courses are available online and in person through the TPWD Web site. Pay attention to your party. Keep an eye on family and friends while on the water or enjoying the shoreline, and make sure everyone gets home safely."