According to the United States Coast Guard, there was a substantial drop in the number of boating accidents in 2019 when compared to 2018. Still, there were over four thousand boating accidents that the Coast Guard responded to in that year.
These boating accidents resulted in the deaths of more than six hundred people, and more than two thousand and five hundred people being seriously injured and requiring medical care for their injuries.
The prevalence of boating activities in Florida makes this especially important for people living here, especially those who have only recently moved here and who may be new to boating and not yet have a primary care physician.
A Brief Look at Boating Activities in Florida
A cruise that takes you along any of the inland waterways of Florida will reveal an exceptionally large number of boats, including everything from small personal watercraft to large, luxurious yachts. How many people have not seen the signs advertising Airboat rides in the Everglades or through any of the other swamps or wetlands of Florida?
Both commercial and private boats venture out into the waters of the Atlantic and all along the Gulf Coast to engage in fishing and other open water activities. Canoes, small flat-bottomed boats, and kayaks are incredibly popular in many of the thousands of lakes dotting Florida maps. Even cruise ships seem more popular going to and coming from Florida, with many commercial cruise lines calling Florida home.
It would not require any stretch of the imagination to note that Florida would just not be Florida without the many waterways and boating activities. Boating activities play a major part in the Florida tourist economy, generating a substantial portion of the multi-billion dollar Florida tourist industry.
How Many Boating Accidents and Injuries are There Every Year?
The Coast Guard notes that they respond to an average of six thousand boating accidents per year, though as has been noted, those numbers may still fluctuate greatly. A great many injuries resulting from boating mishaps, do not get listed as boating accidents.
One fact that needs to be taken into consideration, especially in consideration of boating accidents in Florida, is that much of the transient tourist population who use, rent, lease, or otherwise access the services of professional boaters, may not have much experience around boats, or maneuvering while on board these vessels.
The transient tourist population is also not likely to have travelers insurance, or to have a personal health care provider every place that they visit. It can be very challenging for a tourist to know where to find the best health care providers in Florida. This may result in people not being able to find the best medical care available when they get injured in boating accidents.
What are the Most Common Injuries From Boating Accidents?
What are the Most Common Injuries From Boating Accidents?
Many boating injuries do not involve boating accidents that will be recorded as such, but behavior on the boat itself that results in an accident for an individual. A surprisingly large number of people are injured every year while enjoying some time out on the water.
Like slipping in a bathtub, which causes around six thousand deaths per year, accidents frequently happen to people on boats without the vessel itself being involved in an accident.
This seems to be an especially poignant comparison, as slipping and falling cause the vast majority of injuries on boats. The challenges of getting around on a moving, wet, and often slippery surface results in the vast majority of onboard injuries.
The most common injuries of all are common sprains such as ankles which may be sprained while navigating the moving decks as they rise and fall underfoot. Sprained wrists are also quite common as people try to steady themselves and prevent falling, though not being accustomed to the motion of the walls and other surfaces.
This phenomena is common in large part because their experience, subconscious, and muscle memory tend to believe such surfaces will be stationary despite what their brains or conscious may actually recognize and comprehend as the ongoing motion of these planar surfaces.
This results in a number of cases of blunt trauma where the head may bounce off the floor or other surfaces as the person slips and falls on a boat. The slipping and sliding on boats also frequently results in broken bones that will require orthopedic specialists for resetting and treatment of these broken bones. These types of accidents resulting in both trauma and broken bones are especially common in rough water conditions.
Add water skiing to the mix of common injuries from boating and water activities and compression fractures will also make up a substantial portion of the most common injuries from boating accidents. Snow may be soft if it is not packed in, but water, despite what some people may believe, is very hard and unforgiving when hit at any meaningful speed.
Compressive fractures are a result of a direct impact that generally effects the spinal cord and compresses the vertebrae, usually in the front. In the event someone in your party does suffer from an injury while in the water, extreme caution should be used when removing them in order not to worsen the injury if in fact it does end up to be a spinal injury.
In cases where the water is calm enough, and ideally, if a surfboard or even a large boogie board is available, this should be used to keep the person afloat on their back, relieving as much pressure from the neck and spine as possible.
In any case where water movement may further endanger the patient, perhaps even with the risk of drowning, as much care as is possible to avoid any pressure on the neck or spine when removing them from the water.
These incidents of slipping and sliding may also result in numerous lacerations especially if there is anything fragile around such as drinking glasses, glass top tables, plates, or other materials that may add to the number of lacerations.
YouTube is full of videos from cruise ships where passengers are effectively trapped in large dining areas, lounges, and even gift shops during exceptionally rough weather, and where they can easily become victims of numerous types of injuries on the cruise ships, including broken bones, fractures, trauma, and moderate to severe lacerations caused by debris.
Are Accidents and Medical Emergencies Common on Cruise Ships?
The majority of medical emergencies on cruise ships are the result of illness and disease. This may result from food poisoning or other adverse reactions to food allergies or even radical changes in diet or eating habits.
Illnesses are particularly devastating on cruise ships given the restricted space and the people all being gathered together and sharing many of the same facilities. As such, the spread of infectious diseases or contagious illnesses can expand across a larger percentage of the people in much less time than they would normally take in a more open environment.
How do People Receive Emergency Medical Care on Boats?
How medical care is dispensed on a boat, or if it is even provided at all depends on the vessel and the individual circumstances. Most cruise ships are readily stocked with medical specialists, or at least general practitioners, and have clinics readily available on board.
Charter fishing and dive vessels in Florida may not be so well equipped, but the personnel on board should be largely familiar with the most common injuries, and be able to treat many of the minor medical emergencies, and provide basic comfort and care for more serious injuries such as broken bones or minor lacerations, and the ubiquitous strains and sprains.
The bigger medical concern largely surrounds smaller private vessels, especially ones that travel offshore or to more isolated inland locations throughout the inland waterways and in the swamps especially when there is no radio to remain in communication with others in the event of an emergency.
The presence of a radio can literally be a lifesaver, allowing the boat operators in Florida to call ahead to the closest dock or marina, and have first responders or other medical professionals awaiting their arrival at the closest marina.
What are the Most Dangerous Boating Activities?
As was noted before, even taking a shower from the comforts of your bathtub at home can be a dangerous activity if proper precautions are not taken to avoid injury. Boating and other water sports are not exceptionally dangerous by nature, but the risk of serious injury can be increased, or decreased with a modicum of caution.
This is especially true when alcohol is involved or people are otherwise unaware of their surroundings, or do not pay close attention to the environment around them. Pay attention to what is going on around you at all times while you are on any boat or otherwise engaging in water sports or other open water or shore based activities.
Just remember, if you ever do get injured, on a boat or anywhere else, the only thing you need to remember is Advanced Health Care in Boca Raton.