This Monday is Columbus Day and with the long weekend here, many South Florida residents are heading out on their boats. If you’re one of them, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Coast Guard, and local law enforcement have some tips for you:
1) Stay alert and sober.
Distracted boating and drunk boating can be just as deadly as distracted, fatigued, or drunk driving on Hollywood or Florida streets. In fact, drinking can be more dangerous on the water because the motion of a boat can exacerbate symptoms of drunkenness. According to the Coast Guard, alcohol is the sixth leading cause of boating accidents – and distraction and fatigue are also common issues. If you’re not sober or well enough to operate a boat, designate someone to operate the boat safely.
2) Make sure everyone on board is wearing a life vest.
About 80% of boating fatalities happen to people not wearing life vests. Some people think they’re strong swimmers and don’t need them, but life vests are crucial; if you’re in shock or bump your head going overboard, a life vest can keep you afloat until help can get to you. You can’t always count on being able to swim out of danger. Make sure that children and animals have their own life vests, too.
3) Equip your boat with an Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon.
It’s not the law, but if you get into trouble, it can help the Coast Guard find you much sooner, potentially saving your life. If you’re going to invest in a boat, invest in an Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon system.
4) Tell someone where you’re going.
Always make sure that someone on land knows where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This way, they can contact authorities if you run into trouble and don’t have time to call for help.
5) Get extra training.
You probably didn’t drive a car until you took hours of lessons. Boats can be just as deadly, so get additional safety and boating training. Contact your insurance company; you may qualify for a discount if you take extra classes. Even if you don’t, knowing that you’ve reduced the risk of being in a serious accident is definitely worth the time and cost.
6) Don’t speed.
Speeding can kill on the water as easily as it can on a Hollywood highway. On busy boating days like the Columbus Day holiday, there may be more people out on the water and if you’re going too fast you simply might not be able to stop in time to avoid a serious boating accident. Speeding can also mean a more serious collision if you do crash, putting you and your passengers at greater risk of fatalities or serious injury.
At Flaxman Law Group, our entire legal team would like to wish you a happy Columbus Day weekend. If you head out onto the water, we hope you stay safe. If you do find yourself injured and need assistance, you can always contact Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation.