As summer approaches, it benefits boaters to brush up on how to best stay safe while out on the water in Florida.
You can do your best to prevent a boat accident in Florida by keeping a safe distance between vessels, staying sober while boating, checking the weather, and educating yourself on safe boating practices. If an accident occurs, you can minimize the damage by ensuring all passengers wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) and by radioing in emergency services. Taking the steps to prevent accidents can allow you to avoid expensive injuries and property damage in Florida.
How Can You Prevent a Boat Accident in Florida?
Florida is incredibly popular for year-round boating activities, but even more so in the summer. While boating can be a fun way to enjoy the sun, water, and good company, it can also be dangerous. While a Florida boating accident attorney can help you if you’re injured in an incident, there are some steps you can take to prevent such an event from happening in the first place.
Keep a Safe Distance
The Florida bays are crowded in the summer months. Although you might be skilled in maneuvering your boat through crowded waters, it’s best to steer clear from other vessels. You can’t control how safely others operate their boats, meaning being too close to another vessel might result in a collision, especially if another operator is acting negligently or is distracted. Keep a safe distance from your boat and others to minimize the chances of an accident occurring. In general, staying about 100 feet away from other vessels in all directions is ideal. For larger boats, it may be best to stay about 200 feet away from others.
Don’t Drink and Boat
Boating is a recreational activity that often includes alcohol. However, operators should never drink while boating. It is not only dangerous to drink alcohol while operating a boat, but it is also illegal in Florida. Boating while under the influence of alcohol can lead to collisions, capsizing, and other accidents. According to a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC), alcohol use was the primary cause of 26 boating accidents in Florida in 2022. Additionally, alcohol or drug use was the cause of 13% of boating accident fatalities in 2022. Even passengers drinking onboard might lead to them falling overboard and drowning.
Check the Weather
Florida is known for its intense summer weather. Serious thunderstorms or downpours can appear seemingly out of nowhere. So, if you’re just looking at the skies to see if you should take your boat out on the water, that’s not enough research. Checking the weather is important to make sure it’s safe to go out boating. The FFWCC reported that weather was the cause of 34 boat accidents in 2022. Out of those incidents, six resulted in fatalities.
Take a Course
If you own a boat, you have a responsibility to stay aware of the rules of operation in Florida. To do so, it might benefit you to take a boating safety course. Having a boating education can allow you to stay updated on new safety guidelines or procedures. According to the FFWCC, 340 boating accidents in Florida in 2022 involved boat operators with no formal boating education. Furthermore, 69% of boating fatalities involved operators without a formal boating education.
How to Minimize the Fallout of a Boat Accident in Florida
Despite doing your best to operate your vessel safely in Florida, accidents might happen, or others might act negligently, causing injury to you or your passengers. When this happens, you can minimize the fallout by having the necessary safety devices on board.
The best way to reduce the impact of a boat accident in Florida is by having personal flotation devices on board for all passengers. Be sure PFDs fit passengers properly and are easy to access. While wearing a PFD is not mandated, it is advised, especially for small children or those who are unable to swim.
According to the FFWCC, the majority of victims killed in boating accidents in 2022, 51%, were ejected from vessels. Additionally, 81% of victims were not wearing a PFD at the time of the accident. Unfortunately, victims might be unconscious when ejected from a vessel, meaning not wearing a PFD could lead to drowning. Wearing personal flotation devices can save boat accident victims’ lives in Florida.
Another way to minimize the fallout from a boat accident in Florida is to have a radio on board that can contact the necessary agencies. Being on the water might mean you have no phone reception, meaning contacting help might be challenging. With a working radio, you can contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and emergency medical services so that injured victims can get the necessary care.
Why Should You Prevent a Boat Accident in Florida?
Doing your best to reduce the possibility of certain injuries, or prevent a boat accident altogether, is important. In Florida, victims routinely sustain serious injuries in boat accidents that can forever alter their quality of life.
Based on current information from the FFWCC, most of the boat accident injuries in 2022 were lacerations. Still, 75 victims sustained broken bones, while 47 sustained head injuries. Other common boat accident injuries included back, internal, neck, and spine injuries. Amputation also occurred among some boat accident victims in Florida in 2022.
In total, there was just over $10.6 million worth of property damage in boating accidents across Florida in 2022. If boats collide with one another, there might be considerable damage done to both vessels. Preventing a boat accident not only allows you to avoid sustaining injuries, but it also lets you steer clear from expensive property damage.