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Boating and Water Safety Tips for Central Florida

Summer in Central Florida brings high temperatures and that means more people will be turning to our lakes, waterways and beaches to have some fun and cool off.

Florida Leads the Nation In Boating Fatalities

During the summertime, it is not uncommon to see countless boats on Florida’s lakes, rivers, and oceans. In fact, boating is a year-round activity in Florida, with more registered boats than any other state in the country. With so much activity happening on our waters, it is important to remember boating safety.

In 2014, boating fatalities increased by nearly 10%. Not only will there be boats on Florida’s waters, there will also be jet skiers, water skiers, and tubing among other activities during summertime. Last year, the Coast Guard reported 581 crashes nationwide. One out of every seven crashes happened in Florida. Of those crashes, 70 fatalities took place statewide, including 12 deaths related to alcohol.

Previous reports by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission revealed that most boating accidents in Florida were caused when boaters crashed into other boats or items.

Investigators discovered that last year, dozens of individuals who received Boating under the Influence (BUI) violations also had DUIs.

Experts say that some simple practices of common sense can prevent dangerous boating situations from occurring. These include paying attention when operating a vessel, following safety rules and planning ahead. Wearing a life jacket appears to be the best way to prevent boating fatalities, since 78% of victims in fatal crashes died from drowning.

Boating Safety Tips for Kids and Adults

This summer, Florida families will enjoy endless opportunities to soak up the sun and enjoy our state’s beautiful rivers, lakes and oceans. However, before you take to the water, it is important to fully understand the risks associated with boating. With proper planning and preparation, you and your loved ones can enjoy a safe and eventful time on the water. Below are some valuable boating safety tips.

  • Wear life jackets. In Florida,children under the age of 6 must wear a properly fitted life jacket, approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, when onboard any vessel. To ensure the life jacket fits correctly, have children make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits a child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose. Outside the geographic boundaries of Florida, children under 13 years of age must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD), unless the child is in an enclosed cabin or below deck.
  • Exercise caution with water activities. Never allow children to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers. This is dangerous since you never know the depth of the water or what may lie beneath the surface. For those participating in water sports, discuss useful hand signals that will allow them to communicate with the boat. Also, watch the weather reports and alerts. Florida is known for sudden severe thunderstorms especially during the summer months, which can produce dangerous lightening and rough waters.
  • Properly maintain your boat. Always make sure your boat is in top condition before going out on the water. You can receive a free vessel safety check each year from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
  • Take a boating safety course. Both adults and older children should consider taking a boating safety course. You will learn in depth safety tips, proper boating procedures, and remain up to date with boating safety regulations.
  • Use wise judgment. Boaters should never drink and operate a vessel. The Coast Guard deems alcohol onboard to be more hazardous than on land, due to additional noises and distractions on the water. Never let a young minor operate a vessel. In Florida, important age restrictions for boating apply. No one under the age of 14 may operate any personal watercraft (PWC) on Florida State Waters.

Be Safe On Our Central Florida Lakes and Waterways

Many of us will spend more time in and around water this summer. While it is important to enjoy these moments, water safety is just as important. If you or a loved one has suffered a water-related injury or wrongful death, contact an experienced Orlando personal injury attorney immediately.

The law firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A. is dedicated to serving you and protecting your rights regarding personal injury or wrongful death due to water-related accidents. We can help you obtain compensation for medical bills, future medical treatment, loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. Contact our office at 407-422-4529 to discuss your legal options in greater detail.

If you have questions or comments about the safety tips found on our website please call us anytime at 407-422-4529.

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