Safe boating is an important issue in Florida, where the weather allows for boating all year round. May 19-25 is boating safety week and we should take this opportunity to review some guidelines for safe boating.
- Use life jackets. Unfortunately, people who have life jackets on board do not always wear them. Most drowning victims are due to passengers on boating accidents not wearing life jackets. Make sure every person on board has a life jacket and wears it.
- Check the weather prior to boating. News sources such as tv, radio, and the internet are helpful. Observe the skies and waters and if there is any question that there will be danger, postpone the trip.
- Prepare and follow a pre-departure checklist. Include things like: fuel up, water packed, life vests for each person on board, etc.
- Make sure there is a back up skipper. More than one person should be familiar with how to handle the boat. If that person is incapacitated, there needs to be another who can safety get the boat back to land.
- Have a float plan. Always make sure a family member or someone at the local marina knows where you are going and about how long you plan to be gone. Include the name, addresses, and telephone number of all the people on board, the type of the boat and its registration information, the trip itinerary, and the signal equipment that is on board.
- Avoid alcohol. The odds of being involved in a boating accident is doubled when alcohol is consumed. The effect of alcohol is worsened when sun and wind are present.
- Learn to swim and do CPR. The American Red Cross offers training in these areas.
- Obtain a Free Vessel Safety Check. The U.S. Coast Guard conducts free safety examinations of boats to ensure it is compliant with State and federal regulations.
Do you and your loved ones a favor by following these suggestions so that everyone stays safe boating this upcoming summer!