Boating Safety: Plan!

Getting away on the boat for a day or the weekend can be one of the most exciting—yet relaxing—ways to spend your time away from work and the hustle and bustle of traffic and everyday life. Florida offers some of the most beautiful inner waterways, bays, and open water, with a coast to enjoy on either side of the state. There are an overwhelming number of choices for diversion, but the water draws many of us to it, whether we live in the Sunshine State or are just visiting for a short time—and whether we are just strolling by the shore, swimming, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, sailing, motor boarding, water skiing, or more.

As is the case with most outdoor activities that yield enormous amounts of recreation however, there are unfortunate—and very serious—hazards. As the operator of a vessel, you have a huge responsibility to your passengers and others on the water to follow safety guidelines.  Boating accidents can be catastrophic, and because of the proximity to water and the continued potential for drowning, there is added threat against which you must always remain vigilant.

Before leaving on any trip, create a float plan (view a sample here), and leave it with a reliable party back on ‘land.’ If you change your plans, let them know, just in case you do not return on time. Along with your float plan, always be mindful of safety before leaving the dock. This includes:

  • Making sure the boat is in tiptop condition before heading out onto the water. Regular oil maintenance should be performed along with making sure you have plenty of gas. The motor and propeller should be in good working shape, and all lights should be functional. Make sure the radio works, along with keeping an air horn, flashlight, and flares on board for emergencies.
  • Check the weather. These days, most boaters can rely on their smartphones for a weather report while on the water, but make sure you have access through your radio also, and keep track of the weather throughout the day, just in case any unexpected squalls are on the way.
  • Keep life jackets and personal flotation devices on board for everyone. Children under the age of six should be wearing a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III PFD for the duration of the trip if your boat is under 26 feet long.
  • Know your passengers! Take a head count before you leave and be apprised of the swimming level of everyone on board. If there is anyone who does not know how to swim, they should wear a lifejacket—no matter their age.
  • Avoid alcohol while boating. Not only is it against the law to operate your boat while intoxicated, alcohol and boating—or any water activities—are a dangerous mix.

Have you or a loved one been injured in a boating accident? We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation 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.