Safety on the water: Memorial Day weekend marks official start to boating season

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According to the FWC, a driver of a boat not paying attention contributed to approximately a quarter of all boating accidents in 2017, and statistics show that a majority of the boating-related deaths confirmed last year were attributed to drowning.

Although Florida’s boating season never really ends, the traditional start is marked by National Safe Boating Week, from May 19-25.

The week is a time for boaters to focus on simple and effective steps that make boating safer.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants all boaters be safe while enjoying Florida’s waterways.

As the boating capital of the world, Florida leads the nation with nearly one million registered vessels across the state and is known as a prime boating spot for residents and visitors.

Wes Fitz, has been on the water boating for 40 years.

“What’s not to love, especially in Florida a nice day like today,” Fitz said.

Brian Norris, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Coalition Commission, urges boaters to be careful while out in the Gulf.

“Being out on the boat is so much of a recreational activity that I think they forget that there’s a lot of dangers that go with it,” Norris said.

Nine people ewere killed in boating accidents in 2017 in Lee County, which increased by six from 2016, according to FWC officials.

Lt. Chris Nyce, of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office cited speeding and not paying attention while on the water as causes of boating accidents.

“It’s boating, it’s different than driving a car, there are things in the water you don’t know about,” Nyce said.

Eighty-one percent of people killed on the water weren’t wearing a life jacket, accoridng to FWC.

“On the water, there’s no seat belts, if you end up getting ejected into water and you’re not wearing a life jacket that causes problems,” Nyce said.

Nyce also suggests safety inspections to help boaters make sure they have what they need in case of an emergency.

FWC says, each year, officers respond to far too many tragic boating accidents.

For more information on boating safety visit the FWC website.

Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education Course. Free and open to Florida residents ages 12 to 18. The only course in the nation to combine both hunting and boating safety. Participants will develop skills in outdoor activities and learn about the benefits of physical activity while using proper safety procedures to experience wildlife, outdoor and extreme sports.

By meeting all of the requirements of the Outdoor Education course, not only will students receive their Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card and be eligible to obtain a Florida Hunter Safety Certificate, they’ll also earn a 0.5 credit for high school, and meet public school requirements for taking an online course and a physical education course.

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