Tips To Help You Stay Safe While Boating In Florida
If you love boating, then Florida is the place to be. The abundance of inland waters, the warm weather, and limitless access to the ocean offer Floridians many boating opportunities. According to the FLHSMV, in 2019, more than 960,000 vessels plied the waters in and around the Sunshine State. These numbers reflect just how much residents of the Sunshine State enjoy boating.
Unfortunately, boating accidents are quite common in Florida. In fact, Florida has been leading the nation in boating accidents for quite some time now. According to reports, in 2017 alone, the Sunshine State had over 607 boat accidents, resulting in 57 deaths, 297 injuries, and over $7 million in property damage. Falling overboard and collisions cause the most fatalities.
Most boating accidents are preventable. If every individual takes preventive measures, the number of boating accidents in Florida can be significantly reduced. Boaters can help prevent boating accidents by following the following safety tips;
Tip #1: Don’t Drink and Boat
Most people understand the dangers of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, many people don’t know the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI). While boaters wouldn’t consider drinking while driving a car, many are casual when it comes to drinking behind a boat’s wheel. However, the reality is that drinking and boating can result in serious consequences. According to the United States Coast Guard, BUI is responsible for a third of all recreational boating fatalities. Below are some other important facts about drinking and boating you need to remember:
- Boating under the influence is illegal in Florida and all the other states. In Florida, for example, an individual is guilty of boating under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08.
- Boating under the influence can even be more hazardous than driving under the influence. Stressors such as the sun, wind, marine environment, engine noise, vibration, and wind can all accelerate a drinker’s impairment. These stressors can lead to fatigue, which in the end can negatively affect a boat operator’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. BUI can also be dangerous, much more than DUI because boat operators are quite often less confident and less experienced on the water than on land.
Tip #2: Get a Free Vessel Safety Check
The U.S. Coast Guard offers a complimentary vessel safety check of boats that can help you confirm that your boat meets both federal and state requirements for safety. A decal is usually awarded for display. The decal shows if a vessel has passed the examination. But the safety check results are usually not reported to any enforcement agency, and citations are not cited.
Tip #3: Always Perform a Pre-Boarding Safety Check
Before leaving the dock, boat operators should always conduct a pre-boarding safety check. This can include checking the boat’s key components ranging from the battery to the gas level. A pre-boarding safety check can also include checking equipment. For example, before leaving the dock, a boat operator should check if they have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and if their boat lights are working as they should.
Tip #4: Always Have Life Jackets on Board and Wear Them
The United States Coast Guard expects all recreational boaters to have approved life jackets for every individual on board. To the U.S. Coast Guard, there is no excuse for not wearing a lifejacket while boating. Even children are expected to wear life jackets when on boats, and they are expected to be in jackets specifically sized for children. According to the United States Coast Guard, life jackets can save lives in many ways. For example, life jackets can provide buoyancy if an individual;
- is a weak or non-swimmer
- unexpectedly finds themselves in the water
- purposely jumps into the water to save another person
Tip #5: Check Weather Conditions
Florida weather can change quickly and unexpectedly. Even on a sunny day, a storm can occur unexpectedly. Therefore, it is important that boaters always confirm that the weather conditions are favorable before going out into the water. Boaters should also pay attention to weather predictions, even if they seem far-fetched based on the present weather conditions. Lastly, while boating, you should pay attention to the wind, water conditions, and the sky, as doing that can help you know when you need to make your way back to shore.
A Naples Boating Accident Attorney Can Help With Boating Accidents
If, despite your efforts to stay safe while boating, you suffer injuries in a boating accident due to another party’s negligence, contact a boating accident attorney for legal help. A boating accident attorney can offer you legal guidance and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. To receive help, contact one of our Naples boating accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., today.