Every spring and summer, Florida’s many rivers and bays attract boaters, fishers, and swimmers. However, while Florida usually leads the country in terms of the number of registered vessels (just under one million) it usually also leads America in the number of fatal boating accidents. Sadly, many of these accidents are preventable. In 2009, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) reported that there were 65 fatal Florida boating accidents and 620 reported boating accidents in the state. The majority of boating accident fatalities are caused by drowning, and in many cases this could be prevented with the proper use of a life jacket. According to the FWC, many boating accidents can be prevented if boaters took the following precautions:
1) Took a boating safety course. Statistics from the FWC show that those who are most likely to be in a Florida boating accident are males who have boating experience but who have never taken a boating course. Experts agree that formal boating education can help prevent accidents.
2) Used life jackets every time. Everyone in a boat should be given correctly-sized life jackets and should wear them properly worn, the entire time that the boat is in the water. Life jackets are one of the easiest ways to prevent drowning deaths.
3) Stored an emergency kit on board. A good emergency kit should include flares, fire extinguishers, a first air kit, VHF radio, GPS, cell phone, and other necessities. Everyone on board should know where these items are found and how they are to be used.
4) Avoided alcohol and drugs when boating. Just as Florida drunk driving accidents cause countless tragedies, so do boating accidents caused by drinking. Boating requires focus and attention. Boaters who drink or do drugs cannot control their vessels and may not be able to react in time to avoid collisions or other hazards.
5) Reviewed boating safety often. Refresher courses are available for boaters, and there are many online resources, including the safety guide from the U.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water (www.BoatUS.com/ Foundation/Toolbox) and the FWC site (www.myfwc.com/boating/safety-education). Boating safety basics should be reviewed at least once a season.
If you have been injured in a boating accident, contact the Flaxman Law Group. You can see up a free initial consultation at our offices in Miami, Hollywood, or Homestead, or we can visit you at your convenience. Our experienced legal team has helped thousands of personal injury victims throughout Florida. Learn about your options and rights first – before you make a decision about your case.