With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, many boaters are thinking about heading out on the water, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission would like to warn boaters to take steps to prevent boating accidents in Fort Lauderdale and other cities. According to safety experts, there are several things that boaters can do to prevent boating accidents and injuries:
1) Review safety information. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at myfwc.com offers safety tips and more information for boaters.
2) Treat boating as seriously as you would driving a car. Many people are far more casual about boating, but both tasks require the same motor and cognitive skills and both tasks can be just dangerous.
3) Get formal safety lessons. Under laws passed in 2010, if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 you must take an accepted safety course for boaters if you want to operate a watercraft. Even if you do not need to take a safety course by law, however, you will still want to sign up for one. Just as driver’s education can reduce your risk of causing a car accident in Fort Lauderdale or your community, safety instruction can help keep you from being in a boating accident.
4) Wear life jackets – and insist your passengers also wear them. Drowning in Fort Lauderdale and Florida can happen in even shallow water and it is one of the leading causes of boating fatalities. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 61% of boating deaths in 2013 were caused by drowning and 49% of victims were not wearing life jackets at the time of death. Many people assume that they do not need floatation devices or life jackets if they can swim, but life jackets can help you survive if you sustain a head injury in Fort Lauderdale or your community after falling from a boat and lose consciousness.
5) Do not drink and boat. Anything that puts you at risk of a traffic collision in Fort Lauderdale or your community can also put you at risk on the water. Distraction, drinking, and fatigue, for example, are all closely linked to many boating accidents each year, as is speeding.
6) Be prepared. Your boat should have a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, a paddle for any engine problems, an anchor and anchor line, a pump, a light for bad conditions, and a communication device so that you can call for help if you need it. Each person on the boat should have a life jacket and a whistle to call for help if they fall overboard.
7) Do consider the effects of the water and the sun. The sun and the glare off the water can exacerbate the effects of alcohol and can also make it harder to focus or to stay awake while fatigued. The movement of the water can also mask the effects of drinking. Often, boaters will not feel the effects of alcohol until they return back to land.
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