In Florida, year-round sunshine and bountiful bodies of water make boating a popular pastime. While a day out on the boat is a great way to relax and enjoy family and friends, there are a lot of risks associated with the hobby. According to the United States Coast Guard, hundreds of people are killed and thousands injured each year due to recreational boating accidents that could have been avoided. Glober Law Group encourages people to follow some simple summer boating safety tips to reduce the risk of personal injury:
- Check your Boat for Safety: The United States Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks. The Coast Guard ensures the existence and condition of safety equipment required by the state and national government.
- Take a Boating Safety Course: The United States Coast Guard reports that 70 percent of boating accidents are caused by operator error. Taking a boating safety course will teach you ways to keep yourself and your passengers safe on your vessel.
- Take Swimming Lessons: Swimming skills are vital for boaters. Should a vessel capsize, it is crucial all passengers know how to swim. Many organizations offer lessons for people of all ages and abilities, so check with a local YMCA, the American Red Cross or a community center for class information.
- Create a Pre-departure Checklist: A pre-departure checklist will ensure you haven’t missed any important precautions before heading out on the water. This list also helps make sure you don’t forget any vital safety rules.
- Understand Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning symptoms include dizziness and nausea but can be deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Know where CO may accumulate on your boat to avoid poisoning.
- Watch the Weather: Dark clouds, rough winds and drastic changes in temperature are all signs that the weather may not be ideal for a boat ride. Check with you local media outlet or online for up-to the-minute weather information to ensure you aren’t stuck on the seas in dangerous conditions.
- Operate at Safe Speeds: While it might seem tempting to race through the water, Discover Boating, a public awareness effort managed by the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association, suggests operating at safe speeds at all times. Discover Boating also recommends staying especially vigilant of speed while in high-traffic areas.
- Navigate Carefully: Large vessels often cannot stop or turn easily. Give these big boats ample space for safety. Remember to also utilize buoys and navigational aids which are placed for boater’s safety.
- Select an Assistant Skipper: When boating, make sure someone else on board is aware of the vessel’s operations and safety. If the boat’s driver is injured or can no longer navigate, the assistant skipper can ensure safe return to shore.
- Follow a Float Plan: Make sure someone on land always knows a boat’s path and length of voyage. Local marinas are great resources for sharing your float plan.
- Skip the Alcohol: According to Discover Boating, the probability of a boating accident doubles when navigators are drinking. Avoid alcohol while on the water.
- Always Wear a Life Jacket: Fit each passenger onboard with a life jacket and assign each person their own jacket before setting sail. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most boating deaths involve people who neglected to wear life jackets.
- Report Emergencies: In case of a boating emergency, navigators and passengers must know how to radio for help. Prepare in advance by researching the proper ways to request help in a life-threatening situation.
- Report Accidents: Federal law requires boat operators to file an accident report with the state. In case of an accident, know how to file prior to taking to the water.
With just a few simple steps, boaters can make their time on the water a safe and fun adventure. Glober Law Firm hopes these tips will help ensure your day on the boat is both relaxing and enjoyable.
Glober Law Firm is a Jacksonville personal injury law firm representing victims of auto accidents, bicycle accidents, dog bites and attacks, head and spinal cord injuries, motorcycle accidents, negligent hiring, negligent security, pedestrian accidents, physical assaults, premises liability, slip and fall accidents and wrongful death.