Last year in Florida, there were 600 reported boating accidents and 59 boating deaths. While this is an 18% decrease from 2017, it’s still far too many. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FYC), the majority of fatal accidents involved people falling overboard and drowning, and 30% of accidents involved collisions between vessels. With the proper precautions and safety equipment, you can avoid becoming a statistic.
The #1 Rule
If you want to avoid a boating accident, the most important rule is to always boat sober. In 2018, the FYC gave out 536 alcohol and drug violations and 18% of fatalities were related to drug and alcohol use. Making a commitment to never drink and operate a boat is easy, and it can save lives. Staying sober can also mitigate your risk of drowning.
To prevent drowning accidents, keep as many life jackets onboard as passengers. If someone or your boat is not a strong swimmer, or if they have been drinking, encourage them to use a life jacket. According to the Coast Guard, 70% of boat-related fatalities occur from drowning and 84% of people who drown do so without a life vest. It’s also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher, boat lights, and an anchor on board in case of emergency.
Just like driving, boating requires you to maintain a safe speed and follow all boating and navigation rules. There are as many “rules of the water” as there are rules of the road. It’s also important to pay attention to your surroundings and scout out possible hazards. Although Florida does not require a boating license, the FWC recommends taking a Boating Safety Course before getting “behind the wheel” of an aquatic vessel.
Because there is no way to “pave,” a body of water, you should be especially vigilant about weather and water conditions while boating. A storm can quickly make water conditions unsafe, and any number of factors can create dangerous situations. Check water and weather conditions before you embark, and if you notice inclement weather, return to the shore as soon as possible.
What to Do After a Boating Accident
If you get into a boating accident that is not your fault, you will likely be able to hold the driver or owner of the boat liable for your injuries. This is especially true if the driver was negligent and failed to follow any of the above guidelines. If you need help with a boating accident case, call Paulsen Law Group at (727) 270-8260 and set up a free consultation today.