In our last post, we discussed the very real danger of a fatal boating accident here in Indiana and Illinois. It is summer now, and that means it is boating season, when many people underestimate the risks of being seriously hurt or killed while having fun on the water in a boating incident.
However, it’s not just the usual suspects that can harm or kill in a boating accident here. There are new and growing dangers for those who enjoy recreational boating in Indiana and Illinois.
1. Local Blue Green Algae is Toxic and Can Severely Harm or Kill
Some freshwater algae blooms can kill people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that a “harmful algal bloom” (HAB) results in toxic bacteria called “cyanotoxins.” Some of these cyanotoxins can be dangerous or deadly to humans and animals (like your pets):
- neurotoxins hurt the nervous system,
- hepatotoxins damage the liver,
- dermatoxins harm the skin, and
- others of these toxins injure the digestive system (stomach, intestines).
Both humans and animals can come into contact with these toxic bacteria during recreational activities in fresh water. Sometimes it is by direct contact on the skin; sometimes it happens as the bacteria is inhaled. Signs of exposure include the following:
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
- Nose irritation
- Throat irritation
- Respiratory illness.
Beware as Local Blue-Green Algae Levels Are High in 2017
Most HAB aren’t deadly. However, here in Indiana and Illinois there is a form of blue-green algae bloom that is more serious than most HAB and can cause serious injury and death. See the Associated Press coverage for details in their article, “Indiana officials warn about dangers of blue-green algae.”
ISDH cautions Hoosiers of possible high levels of blue-green algae at many of Indiana’s reservoirs and lakes. Swimmers and boaters should be careful in all recreational waters during this time of the year.
Precautionary measures include avoiding contact with visible algae and swallowing water while swimming.…. If you should experience any symptoms after water recreational activities, please contact your doctor.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.
2. Death by Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Boating: Raven’s Rule
Not all boating deaths are caused by drowning or by some kind of boating accident or crash. Last year, Raven Little-White gave her life in a boating accident that has come to serve as a warning to others of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning on watercraft.
Boats with motors have gasoline engines. Watercraft may also have onboard generators. These engines give off carbon monoxide (CO).
CO is an invisible, odorless gas that is toxic to humans and animals.
Some watercraft, particularly houseboats, emit CO fumes from the rear, where there is often a platform built for swimming. These fumes can build up on that platform or even enter the craft itself, going into the cabin. Wind can push the toxic gas, too, moving it onto the stern or bridge.
It only takes seconds for exposure to carbon monoxide fumes to kill someone on a watercraft.
Raven’s Rule resulted from a teen first appearing to be dizzy or inebriated after sitting on a boat’s swim platform. When everyone realized she was having a medical emergency, it was too late to save her from CO poisoning. See, ‘Surprising cause of death in teen boating accident creates ‘Raven’s Rule’ published by KFVS12.com.
3. Texting While Driving is Growing Cause of Fatal Boating Accidents
Distracted driving is a big problem causing boating accidents as well as car crashes. Boat operators are taking their smart phones on their boats with them and texting as they operate their craft. See the article in Game and Fishing by Keith Sutton published in Game and Fishing on June 8, 2017, “Texting While Boating: Big, Dangerous Problem.”
Over seven years ago, the American Sailing Association was voicing concerns about the growing popularity of phones with boaters. The ASA forecast more and more boating accidents would result because boat operators were distracted from the task of operating their craft by their phones.
From BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner:
“Cellphones are the primary communication device for many boaters. So while they’re important to all of us, we have to know how to use them wisely. If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”
Victims of Boating Accidents Need Justice
No matter the cause of a boating accident here in Indiana or Illinois, the injured victim who has been hurt due to the negligence or mistake of another has the legal avenue to file boating accident damage claims against those responsible for their injuries.
This can be based on a variety of state laws in effect either in Indiana or Illinois. Perhaps it is a negligence claim against a boat operator, analogous to a car crash claim filed by a passenger in a car accident. Maybe it’s a product liability (or defective product) claim against a watercraft manufacturer or boat maker because the vessel itself failed in some way, causing the boating accident.
Laws exist to help boating accident victims and their loved ones get justice after there has been a serious injury or death in a boating accident. Of course, the better result is for the boat operator to avoid the boating accident and everyone stay safe from harm. Let’s all be careful out there!