Now that summer is in full swing, people throughout Florida are taking to the water for recreational boating excursions in droves, even amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Boating is an exciting activity, but it can also become dangerous, so preparation and safety measures are essential. Whether you are a Florida native or visiting for the first time, here are some safety tips from our Florida boating accident lawyer we think everyone could use.
In Florida, a boating license is not a requirement to operate a boat. However, both residents and non-residents must have passed a boating safety course in order to legally drive one. You must be able to show proof that you completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course, an equivalent class, or received a temporary certificate. There are plenty of online and in person boating courses available that are quick and affordable. As an added bonus, such a course will equip you with the knowledge you need to stay safe on the water.
Always check the weather forecast before boating and cancel your plans if inclement weather is likely. During a storm, strong waves can easily damage your boat or knock someone overboard. Make sure to monitor the weather while you are out as well in case you need to head back to shore. Having a marine radio onboard will alert you to approaching inclement weather. Be sure you periodically test the radio to ensure it is functioning properly.
Having equipment onboard such as life jackets and a first aid kit is essential because you can never predict what will happen. Be prepared for any kind of emergency and pack accordingly. Bring enough food and drinks for everyone onboard, especially if the day is going to be hot and sunny. Also, duct tape can be incredibly useful to patch up leaks and garbage bags can be used for anything - from their intended purpose to rain protection - in a pinch.
Your boat safety kit should also include:
A float plan consists of a detailed itinerary and passenger manifest. Document exactly where you plan to go and the names and contact information of everyone on board and give the float plan to a trustworthy person who is staying on land. This way, in the event you get lost or don’t return when you say you will, that person can inform the authorities.
One of the leading causes of boating accidents and fatalities both in Florida and nationwide is passenger inattentiveness. While you’re on the water, at least one person on the boat should be tasked with keeping watch. Look out for marine animals, marine infrastructure, weather changes, other boats, and any potential obstructions and avoid them accordingly.
This may seem obvious yet is worth mentioning. According to a 2017 United States Coast Guard report, alcohol use is the number one known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. As you would when driving a car, designate someone to remain sober and let only that person drive the boat. Never operate any moving vehicle under the influence of alcohol—or drugs—under any circumstances.
Have you or someone you know been injured in a boating accident? Contactour Panama City personal injury lawyerto schedule a free consultation. We can help you receive compensation to pay for your medical bills and other accident expenses.