More people dying by selfie on the water

If you’ve ever scrolled an Instagram feed (or accessed the Internet, ever), you’ll know people will take dumb risks for a great photo. Just recently, a woman was banned for life from Royal Caribbean Cruises, after posing on the other side of the railings on a tiny platform.


A fellow passenger spotted the woman posing and took a photo of the dangerous spectacle. He posted the photo to Instagram (it’s since been removed), with the caption:


You cannot fall off a ship unless you are acting like a moron!


He’s probably right.


Today, we’re exploring why people risk their lives for Likes, and how this can impact your safety on the water.


Spike in selfie related deaths

As selfies have risen in popularity, so have accidents, caused by people (mostly to themselves) who are more focused on taking a good photo, then with what is happening around them. Unfortunately, this trend is impacting the safety of people on and in the water.


According to a study by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, drowning was the number one cause of selfie-related death. Why? Because selfie-takers were washed away by unexpected waves or capsized their boat.


The same study found that there were 259 recorded selfie-related deaths between October 2011 and November 2017. In 2011, there were around 3 selfie-related deaths. In 2017 that number had risen to 93.


Around 70% of all deaths were male, and the mean age of those who passed was 22.94 years.


Origin of the selfie

Although reality stars like the Kardashians certainly encouraged the rise of the selfie, it was actually a 21-year-old Australian man, who coined the term back in 2002.


The young man had fallen over at a party and cut his lip, he took a blurry photo, posted it to a chat forum and apologised for the poor focus, ‘…it was a selfie’, he explained. No one knows the identity of the man. But his username was ‘Hopey’ and he really like abbreviating.


Hopey wasn’t trying to get Likes for his photo, (see it here and you’ll understand why!) he just wanted to know how to take care of his swollen lip.


How can young people stay safe?

Given the mean age of selfie-related deaths is 22.94 years, we’re focusing our safety advice on young people, who are statistically more likely to take risks than older individuals. However, this information still applies to people of every age.


The study mentioned earlier in this blog ended by recommending ‘no selfie zones’ in dangerous areas, such as tourist hot spots, water bodies, tall buildings and mountain peaks. Researchers in the report stated:


“Selfies are themselves not harmful, but the human behaviour that accompanies selfies is dangerous,” they said.

“Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviours and risky places where selfies should not be taken.”


When it comes to being on the water, we believe a blanket ‘no selfie rule’, while on, near or in the water, should be implemented. If you’re sailing with young people, provide this information before launch, so they understand the rules on board.


Just like any boat, safety measures need to be taken seriously.


Offer an alternative

It may also be useful to provide young people with an alternative, so they don’t  feel the need to snap a sneaky selfie while you’re not watching. After all, boating is an amazing adventure, and most young people probably want their mates to know how lucky they are.


So, in the interests of safety (and the satisfaction of your younger crew), it may be useful to provide a designated ‘photo time’, which can happen when conditions are safe, and someone is watching out for them.


Perhaps this is when you drop anchor, or are traveling at low speed with no traffic or obstacles in sight. Of course, you don’t have to offer a compromise, but it may help to keep your young crew happy and safe.


Stay in the moment (duh)

It may sound old-fashioned, but more and more young people are choosing to put their phones away and embrace the moment. They’re realising that even though a selfie on a jet ski may look cool, the lived experience of enjoying the moment is far more gratifying.


It goes without saying, that spending time trying to take the ideal shot is far less fun than sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking or casting a line in the perfect spot. For a growing group of millennials, being in the moment is worth more than Likes.


Are you covered?

Now your selfie-safety is on point, talk to us about securing cover for your vessel. We provide comprehensive marine insurance for recreational and commercial boaties, and we make sure you’re covered for the stuff that matters – so you have peace of mind on the water.


Get started now.