National Safe Boating Week Kicks Off Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend

Unfortunately, boating accidents happen every year. This Memorial Day law enforcement is kicking off its annual National Safe Boating Week. South Florida is known for its tropical weather, beaches and its proximity to the ocean giving way to an abundance of outdoor activities, one of the most popular of which is boating. Whether fishing or simply enjoying the warm ocean breeze, boating is an extremely popular recreational activity in Miami. Many South Floridians live for “boating weather,” however a fun day on the boat can quickly turn extremely dangerous in the hands of the inexperienced or careless.

An initiative by the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue known as “National Safe Boating Week” is aiming to make boating a safer activity. The week kicks off every year right before Memorial Day weekend. The holiday weekend is often celebrated on the water resulting in numerous accidents and even fatalities.

Dubbed, “Ready, Set, Wear It,” this year’s focus is on the use life jackets and proper safety equipment. The Coast Guard reports that 90-percent of boating accident fatalities on the water are people who were not wearing a life jacket. Adding to the danger is the consumption of alcohol while operating a boat, which leads to fatalities each and every year.

If you plan on boating, whether during Memorial Day weekend or anytime throughout the year, be sure to follow safety precautions. Here are some tips to help you choose the right life jacket from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division:

· All jackets are not created equal. Certain life jackets are designed to keep your head above water.

· Adult life jackets will not work for children.

· All states have regulations regarding children and life jackets. See Florida’s child life jacket regulations here: http://myfwc.com/boating/boating-regulations#educ

· The law states that there must be one life jacket for each person on board.

· To work properly, a life jacket must be worn and be snug-fitting.

In addition to raising awareness, the Coast Guard will be on patrol enforcing safe recreational boating safety. Furthermore, undercover maritime officers will be using a new laser range finder, which can detect whether or not boaters stay 300 feet away from divers. The fine for violating this law is $90.

Sources:

Cbs4.com, “Boating Safety A Priority Heading into Memorial Day Weekend,” 18 May 2012

uscgboating.org, “Life Jacket Wear / Wearing Your Life Jacket”