Florida is home to some of the most beautiful coastline our country has to offer. Recreational boating is a way of life and Floridians love being out on the water. However, as 2010 draws to a close, officials are warning the public of an alarming trend.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported recently that boating-related deaths are 24 percent higher this year than last year. There have been 76 deaths in 2010 and the year is not yet over. The FWC is concerned about this significant increase in accidents on the water and the organization is asking for the public’s help to stop it.
Officials for the FWC say that education and awareness will be the most effective tools to keep boaters safe. They want to remind boaters of basic safety tips which can prevent serious accidents and save lives.
Boaters should remember the common-sense rules of boat safety. First, always wear a lifejacket. More than half of this year’s boating deaths were due to drowning and a lifejacket is the first line of defense. A spokesman for the FWC stated that people often forget to put on a life jacket because they don’t plan on being in the water. In the event of a crash or capsize this can be a fatal mistake.
Second, boaters should always pay attention to things like weather, how fast they are going, and the position of other boats. They should also make sure their boat is in proper working condition before leaving shore. With so many boats on the water each driver is responsible for his own safety and the safety of others.
Finally, boaters should never drive while drunk. Operating a boat while drunk is not only illegal, it is just as dangerous as drunk driving in a car.
With so many boat-related fatalities in 2010, the FWC is reminding every boating enthusiast to be smart out on the water. We all want to sail smoothly into 2011.
Source: Wakulla.com, “Increased Fatalities Prompt FWC to Reach Out to Boaters,” Katie Purcell, December 16, 2010