Recognized as “The Boating Capital of the World,” Florida leads the nation with over a million registered vessels across the state.
On Saturday, National Safe Boating Week kicks off the summer boating season.
“Unfortunately, each year FWC officers respond to far too many tragic boating accidents that could have been prevented,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Boating and Waterways Section Leader Maj. Rob Beaton. “There were hundreds of accidents reported last year, involving almost 2,000 individuals.”
In 2022, 54% of all vessel accidents involved collision. The primary causes for these accidents were improper lookout and operator inexperience.
“One of the things we see the most are people going out with inexperienced boaters, so we suggest that you go out with an experienced boating captain, one that’s certified, one that’s gone through the classes, the courses, and understands the rules of the road and out of the water because that is very important,” said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Pete Sanchez.
All boat operators are encouraged to develop a float plan. Let a family member or friend on shore know where you are going and for how long. Just in case something happens they know where to look for you.
Make sure the boat has enough life jackets that are easily accessible. By law you must have one life jacket per person and anyone under 13 must be wearing one at all times
Make sure there is a safety kit on board that includes a fire extinguisher, first aid supplies, flashlights, a whistle, a working radio, and flares.
Always check the weather forecast the day before and the day of the boat trip.
Avoid boozing it up. Alcohol, and drugs, can impair a boater’s judgment, reaction time, and overall ability to operate a boat safely.
“Boating while impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal,” said Beaton. “FWC officers are always on the lookout for impaired operators and these operators will face arrest if found to be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”