Now that summer has arrived, the risk of boating accidents and injuries in Fort Lauderdale and other Florida communities has also arrived. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking boaters to use extra caution this year in order to reduce the number of boating-related injuries and accidents.
In 2013, there were 62 fatalities linked to boating. According to authorities, alcohol use and inexperienced boaters are two main risks that can contribute to boating accidents. Luckily, these common causes of injury are also preventable. This year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is urging boaters to:
1) Avoid drinking while boating. Boating should be treated just like driving. Just as you should not drive drunk in Fort Lauderdale or use drugs before getting behind the wheel, you need to make sure that you stay sober when on the water. About 15% of all fatalities related to boating involved drug or alcohol use. Drinking while boating can lead to criminal charges as well as serious accidents.
2) Be prepared for emergencies. Boaters should bring along whistles, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and enough life jackets for every passenger. Each time boaters and their passengers are on the water, they should be wearing a life jacket. In many boating accidents in Fort Lauderdale, head injuries prevent a victim from being able to swim to safety and a life jacket in this type of situation can help keep the victim afloat until help arrives.
3) Get instruction if you are a new boater or haven’t been on a boat in a while. There are a number of safety courses available that can help new boaters and experienced boaters hone their skills and reduce their chances of a serious injury.
4) Consider the effect of the sun. The sun reflecting off the water as well as the warmth of a summer day can exacerbate the effects of drowsiness and alcohol. Do not boat if you are fatigued and avoid alcohol entirely so that you can stay aware and alert. Boat when you are in good physical condition to do so and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun.
5) Use extra caution when boating with children. Children need extra supervision on a boat. Boating and swimming related injuries are the cause of many child injuries in Fort Lauderdale and Florida each summer. Children may become fascinated with the water and may lean too far out of a boat. Children on boats should be closely supervised and should be in a life jacket at all times on a boat. Children should also be given swimming lessons early, to ensure that they do know how to swim if they do find themselves in water.
6) Stay focused. Just as distracted driving in Fort Lauderdale and other cities leads to collisions, distracted boating can lead to passengers falling overboard, collisions with other boats, and other problems. When in a boat, focus on safety and be sure to put mobile devices and other distractions away before you hop onboard.
Have you been injured in a boating collision in South Florida? Contact Flaxman Law Group for a free, confidential case assessment.