Florida’s coastlines and many rivers and lakes make it an ideal place for boating. There are many boating enthusiasts across the state, and while the majority of them obey the laws and boat safely, there are still many preventable boating accidents that occur each year. These accidents can cause property damage damaged, fatalities, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, drowning, broken limbs, and many other types of injuries. In many cases, boating accidents involve alcohol or other forms of negligence and therefore lead to complicated legal cases as well. You can help provoke boating accidents by:
1) Learning all you can before you get on the water. Taking a boating safety course is an excellent way to learn more about the rules of the waterways and safe boating techniques. Learning about your craft and learning how to operate it safely are key ways to ensure that you and everyone around you stay safe in the water.
2) Boating in good weather, especially if you’re just a beginner. If you are new to boating, it makes sense to stay on the water only when the weather is favourable and high visibility is possible. This will help prevent any possible accidents due to poor visibility, rough waters, and other environmental factors.
3) Wear personal flotation devices or life jackets at all times. This is simply the easiest way to ensure that you do not fall victim to drowning. Carry extra life jackets and personal flotation devices on board your craft, and ensure that every passenger who climbs aboard wears one from the time he or she gets on the boat to the time he or she disembarks.
4) Stay sober. The motion of a boat, the strong wins, and the tiredness that many boaters feel is only heightened by alcohol and other controlled substances. This means that even very small amounts of alcohol can impair you while you’re behind the wheel of your craft. Avoid having any form of alcohol or controlled substance before you head on the water, and check your prescription medication carefully to ensure that it does not make you feel drowsy or sleepy.
5) Boat safely. Some boaters take risks, such as speeding near swimmers, boating very close to other vessels, jumping waves, or weaving through boat traffic at high speeds. All of these can result in legal penalties, and if you cause an accident while taking such risks you will be liable for any damages or injuries you cause.
6) Stay alert to the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Swimming or being near areas where boat engine exhaust accumulates can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Leaving your motor idling, or cooking or heating with fuels can also create a build-up of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide has no odor, taste, or color. It is a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors on board and use fuel-burning appliances on board only on deck or somewhere where good ventilation is available.
7) If you enjoy using a kayak, canoe, or other small boat without a motor, keep in mind that large vessels and power boats may not be able to see you. Choose high visibility life jackets, personal flotation devices, and select small boats that are very visible in the water. Make sure that you have signaling devices that you can use to alert another vessel of your presence.