We are drawn to the water for so many reasons—and in so many different places. In Florida alone, there are a multitude of places to go swimming, water skiing, boogie boarding, surfing, fishing, and more. So many of these activities give us a chance to enjoy saltwater and fresh air, check out wildlife, and take advantage of therapeutic relaxation and fun. Safety is always a priority though around the water, and even more so when boating.
While operating a boat may seem easy enough, there is plenty to know beforehand. You must be fourteen or over to operate such a vessel in Florida, and if you were born after the beginning of 1988, a boating education course is required. And even if you have been driving a car for years, when you head out on to the water there is a lot to learn. Unfortunately, injuries from boating accidents are all too common in Florida, and in the past few years, fatalities have been on the rise. With a greater emphasis on safety, it is hoped that this trend can be reversed—and especially as boaters understand the main causes of accidents today:
- Drinking and boating is a terrible—and sometimes fatal—mix. Just like drinking and driving, indulging in alcohol while out on the water can lead to tragic consequences, and it is just as illegal if you are over the allowed limit. It is easy to get very relaxed out on the water, and it may sometimes feel like normal life just doesn’t apply as you bask in the sunshine, rocked along in the waves; however, your body can be more strongly affected by alcohol after a long day in the hot and humid weather, affecting your ability to make good judgment calls and arrive home safely.
- Speeding and ignoring basic boating safety rules lead to injuries and fatalities on the water. If you are operating the boat, make sure to drive at a speed comfortable for you and your passengers, and slow down at appropriate times like turning. Take extra caution when waves are choppy, or weather conditions are poor or deteriorating. Keep the required number of lifejackets on board for the size of your party, with children under six keeping them on when riding in a smaller boat.
- Ignoring boat maintenance is just asking for trouble—and most boats do require significant care. Along with basic care like changing the engine oil and making sure fuel levels are sufficient, always check the propeller before leaving the dock. Make sure the engine and bilge are in good shape, and check all peripheral items such as the lights, horn, fire extinguisher, anchor, radio, and more. Getting stranded out on the water can lead to catastrophic results—when issues causing such a problem could have been easily diagnosed or prevented before leaving.
Have you or a loved one been injured in a boating accident due to the negligence of others? Call our office for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!
All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.