No matter how much experience you have, itís always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before departures. Read below to familiarize yourself with these basic boating safety tips:
Boating Safety Education Cards
Did you know that anyone 21 years old and younger must have a Boating Safety Education ID Card to legally operate a boat in Florida? Read this to find out more about what the law requires and how to get your card.
Always check local weather conditions for boating safety before departure- TV and radio forecasts can be a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
Follow a Pre-Departure Checklist
Proper boating safety means being prepared for any possibility on the water. From compliance with fire safety regulations to tips for fueling up, following a pre-departure checklist is the best way to make sure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten.
Use Common Sense
One of the most important parts of boating safety is to use your common sense. This means operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be alert at all times, and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there for one reason only- to ensure your own boating safety.
Designate an Assistant Skipper
Make sure more than only one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boatís handling, operations, and other boating safety tips. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, itís important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore.
Develop a Float Plan
Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure let someone else know your float plan in terms of where youíre going and how long youíre going to be gone.
A float plan can include the following information: name, address, and phone number of trip leader: name and number of all passengers; boat type and registration information; trip itinerary; types of communication and signal equipment onboard.
Make Proper Use of Lifejackets
Did you know that the majority of drowning victims as the result of boating accidents were found not to be wearing a Lifejacket? Did you realize that many people drown each year because they were involved in a boating accident? These people never expected to have a life or death situation happen while boating. If these people would have simply been wearing a life jacket, nearly all would have survived their ordeal. Make sure that your family and friends aren't part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your onboard team with a Lifejacket-prior to departure.
Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved, and studies have also shown that the affect of alcohol is exacerbated by external effects such as sun and wind.
Learn to Swim
If you're going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety means knowing how to swim. Local organizations such as the American Red Cross and others offer training for all ages and abilities- check to see what classes are offered in your area!
Take a Boating Course
Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements vary by state - some require validated completion of at least one boating safety course. Regardless of your individual state's requirements, it's always important to be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that might arise. You can learn boating safety rules by taking a local community course, or there are online tutorials to help educate novice boaters.
Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check
Take advantage of a free Vessel Safety Check from the US Coast Guard (see links below). They offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain Safety Equipment required by State and the Federal regulations. Free of charge, they'll provide a specialist to check out your boat and make helpful boating safety tips and recommendations. They also offer virtual online safety checks as well. Find a vessel Safety check examiner closest to you.
Recreational Boating Accidents
Carelessness and inattention are the leading causes of boating accidents in Florida. Pay close attention to your surroundings while on the water, and you will be on your way to a safe and enjoyable outing.
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