In South Florida, we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy great boating weather year-round. And just like so many other common activities, it’s hard to imagine that something that is supposed to be fun could end up in devastating injury or loss of life. However, last year in Florida there were 67 fatalities and 421 injuries as a result of boating accidents. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).
When you are investing your time in an activity like boating, it’s important to take it very seriously, especially when the lives of your friends and family may be at risk in the event of an accident.
If you are out on our beautiful South Florida seas, please consider these boating safety tips.
1. Ask for a Vessel Safety Check
Did you know that the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary & U.S. Power Squadrons have certified vessel examiners who perform vessel safety checks, free-of-charge? Contact the Coast Guard for more information on having an examiner take a look at your boat and advise you on any safety issues that you may be unaware of. The exam occurs at a mutually agreed upon time and the examiner comes to you. There is no penalty if you do not pass the safety check and you may gain valuable knowledge about how to improve the safety of your vessel.
2. Life Jackets are not an Option
The law states that there must be a Coast Guard-approved jacket for each person on the boat. These jackets must be appropriate sizes, in good condition, and readily accessible in the case that they are needed. Children under the age of six must wear a life jacket at all times on a boat that is less than 26 feet and underway in Florida waters.
3. File a Float Plan
Don’t rely on your passengers to relay pertinent information in the case of an emergency. As the owner/operator of a boat of any size, you should always fill out a float plan with valuable information that can be used to locate your vessel if there is an emergency. The float plan should be left with someone on shore who can follow-up with authorities if there is a problem, or if you do not return at an agreed-upon time.
4. Propeller Safety
Boat propellers are extremely dangerous. It’s important that you educate your passengers on the dangers of going near the propeller at any time. Make sure that there are clear rules with regards to entering and exiting the water near the propeller and that all passengers understand when they are allowed to do so. Never allow entry/exit to the boat when the engine is on and always wear your ignition cut-off lanyard if there is an issue that causes you to be ejected from the boat while in motion. Be aware of where your passengers are at all times,and if there are any people in the water around your boat. Propeller accidents are largely preventable if the boat operator is aware of the area surrounding the propeller.
5. No Drinking & Boating, No Exceptions
This goes without a lot of explanation. The operator of the vessel should not be drinking, period. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is just as dangerous as DUI, and you are putting your passengers at risk of serious injury or death if you choose to drink and drive a boat. There is no exception to this rule.
All of these tips are extremely important if you choose to take a boat out on the water. To learn more about how you can be a better boat operator, you should also consider taking a boating safety course.
If you feel that you have been the victim of a boating accident where the operator of the vessel was negligent in following safety procedures, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney who may be able to help you recover from your losses related to the accident.
(n.d.). Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/index.php?m=rb