If you live in Florida, more than once you have probably heard, “Just jump in the boat—let’s go!” without any concern for boating caution. While taking off certainly can be that easy, it is recommended that all boaters go through a safety checklist before taking off for a day or evening of fun on the water.
Whether you are planning to catch some rays on a pleasure cruise, do some serious fishing, or go water-skiing or tubing, safety should always come first. Going down a safety list before departing should also give you—and your passengers—peace of mind in knowing that you are as prepared as possible.
Following is a good safety outline:
- Complete an approved boater safety course, and carry your State of Florida Boating Education ID card with you when you are on the water. Individuals 14 and older can take the course and then go on to operate a boat.
- Always check the weather report. While it may look bright and sunny in the morning, conditions can change quickly. Be aware of any impending thunderstorms, and if possible, continue watching or listening to the weather report periodically while you are on the water.
- Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you intend to be back. Leave word with family or friends remaining behind on land. This is a simple detail, but one that is often overlooked, and it could save your life should you not return and/or lose communication.
- Do a head count before leaving the dock. This is especially important if you have a larger party on board.
- Ask if everyone knows how to swim; be aware of those who may have little to no experience in the water.
- Provide lifejackets or flotation devices for everyone on board.
- Check the bilge and engine operations, as well as all running lights, to be as certain as possible that everything is in working order. Make sure the boat is free of oil and fuel leaks.
- All safety gear should be intact such as the fire extinguisher, horn, whistle, flares, and a stocked first-aid kit.
- Take an inventory of water and food.
- Avoid alcohol while operating the vessel. Boating while intoxicated is a leading cause of Florida’s boat accidents.
While you and your guests may be impatient to get going, every minute spent on a pre-boating checklist is well worth the time—especially when considering that Florida leads in boating fatalities, and there were 4,463 accidents last year. Unsurprisingly, those not wearing their life jackets are more prone to drowning, as well as those riding in or operating smaller boats.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact us now. At Heintz & Becker our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping victims claim the compensation they deserve from negligent boaters.
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.