As the Florida heat rises, more residents plan to have summer fun on their boats. Boating can be relaxing and exciting, but it can also be dangerous. It is easy to become lax about safety when you are on the water. This, however, is a poor choice. Everyone on board should be continuously aware of their surroundings and potential dangers.
The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission has released its 2020 Boating Accident Statistical Report. This is a highly detailed report that the Commission releases annually. Inside, you will find statistics for all manner of boating-related matters. It covers everything from accidents to the number of people who obtained a license that year.
Here are some facts that stand out in the 2020 report:
Using the above statistics, here are some helpful tips to stay safe while boating this year.
At least 69% of all boating accident deaths involved an inexperienced operator. Do not allow an untrained person to operate a watercraft. People often take the open water for granted. They allow their friends to operate their watercraft just for fun. As we can see, this practice is just as dangerous as allowing an inexperienced driver to operate a car.
Staying sober on the water is as important as staying sober on the road. Impairment was cited in 23% of boating fatalities in 2020. Never assume that a boat, because it is on the water, is inherently safer than a road vehicle. People often drink on their boats. This is why you should have a designated, qualified, sober operator on your watercraft at all times.
The largest number of boating accidents happened in May. People tend to take to the water at similar times. Certain months or times of day are more alluring. If you think it is a good day to go boating, you are likely not alone. Many people will have that same idea. When you see may people out on the water, stay vigilant.
Tragically, there were 52 drowning deaths last year, which was 53% of all boating fatalities. Life jackets should be worn by everyone, especially inexperienced swimmers. People often worry that this protective gear is cumbersome and uncomfortable. That may be true for some, but staying safe is better than becoming part of a sad statistic.
Open motorboats saw the most accidents in 2020. These are fast, powerful machines, and people find them thrilling. Going fast may seem fun, but it can be deadly. Make sure your operator can handle the boat properly, and stay alert for hazards and choppy waters.
The steps you must take in an accident are similar to those you would take in a highway accident.
Vehicle accidents in open water have inherent dangers. You must avoid falling overboard while getting everyone to safety. Similarly, you must work to pull capsized people on board watercraft.
Once everyone is safe, drop your anchor. Now, you must tend to the wounded. Your watercraft should have a first aid kit on board. Stop any bleeding, and nurse all cuts. If someone is seriously injured, do not move them. Doing so could cause more harm. Help anyone that may be on board another craft as well.
Next, you should call emergency services. Pay close attention to your location, checking for any unique landmarks that can help services find you. You should get a response from the Coast Guard, fire department, or marine police. Calling 911 is an option, but you might have bad reception on the water. If you cannot make a phone call, use an emergency channel on your radio. Using your radio could have an added benefit. Nearby boats could hear you. They may be able to come help.
Exchange information with all parties involved. All persons should exchange names and numbers, along with insurance information. Get the makes and models of all craft, including registration numbers. If there were witnesses to the accident, gather their information as well. Take pictures. Record all damage to all craft. Include images of any property damage.
One you have been treated for your injuries and are safe at home, call your insurance company. Give them all relevant documentation, information, and pictures.
Speak to an attorney about your accident. They can closely monitor your case, making sure that insurance pays your benefits appropriately. If insurance does not cover all your injury bills, it may be necessary to take the matter to civil court. Your lawyer, having worked on your case from the beginning, will be familiar with your situation. This can help them prepare to argue for you.