Boating: How to stay safe on water

FWC, Coast Guard offers tips for boaters

ORLANDO, Fla. - National Safe Boating Week ran from May 19-25 in 2018. The Coast Guard and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, raised awareness of boating accidents and how to prevent them.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission there were 766 reported boating accidents in Florida last year. More than 60 of those were fatal. Some of those deaths could have been prevented if boaters were following safe boating practices, FWC officials said.

The FWC and U.S. Coast Guard officials said most injuries and accidents are preventable by taking these steps:

  • Proper lookout: The leading cause attributed to boating accidents in 2017 was the operator's inattention or lack of a proper lookout. Accidents can often be prevented if boat operators pay attention to everything going on around their vessel.
  • Wear a life jacket: 52 percent of boating-related deaths last year were attributed to drowning, which life jackets are designed to prevent.
  • Engine cut-off switch: An engine cut-off switch lanyard is a safety device that is attached from the boat operator to the ignition. If it is disconnected, the engine will shut down, potentially preventing a boater who has fallen overboard from being injured by the moving propellor of a runaway boat.
  • Vessel safety check: As part of National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will hold several voluntary vessel safety check events to ensure boaters' vessels meet the minimum safety standards and that boaters have the necessary equipment to save lives and request help in the event of an emergency.
  • Education: In 2017, 67 percent of boat operators involved in fatal accidents had no formal boater education. Florida’s current boating safety education law applies to boaters born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, and who operate a vessel of 10 horsepower or greater.  Find a list of Coast Guard approved boating safety education courses here.
  • File a float plan: Boaters should let others know where they are going. Coast Guard, state and local law enforcement and first responders have the ability to start a search quicker if we know where to begin. Click here to file a floating plan.
  • Register your radio equipment: Properly registered EPIRB/PLB and DSC Marine Radio equipment will help speed up post-accident rescue. File U.S. 406 MHz Beacon Registration through the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration here.
  • Download the Coast Guard app: The U.S. Coast Guard keeps its app updated with the latest safety regulation information. Boaters can also use the app to request a vessel safety check, check safety equipment, file a float plan, learn navigation rules, find the nearest NOAA buoy and request emergency assistance.


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