Monday, March 26, 2018

Prevent a Boating Accident or Boating Injury

Prevent a Boating Accident or Boating Injury  

For the boating enthusiast there is no better place in the United States than Florida.  Florida offers access to the Atlantic Ocean the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway, Lake Okeechobee and numerous swamps, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.  Regardless of where you are enjoying the waters in Florida, the first priority for every responsible boater is to take all prudent measures to prevent a boating accident or boating injury. The more you do to prepare, the safer you will be during your boating excursions. These are some easy things you can do to help keep you, your boat, and others safe on the water.

1.  Leave the alcohol at the dock or have a designated driver! Alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land.   Drinking and boating can dramatically increase the odds of a boating accident or boating injury, especially in Florida where the waters are often crowded with inexperienced boaters. All it takes is one miscalculation by an inexperienced boater to ruin your day and possibly your life.  Aside from being illegal, the US Coast Guard reports boating under the influence incidents result in a 34 percent higher fatality rate. 

          2.   Don't turn down your emergency radio.  It is very important to monitor Channel 16; it may save your life or someone else’s.   You must also know how to use your VHF in the event of a boating emergency.

3.   Maintain safe speed and lookout. Overall, operator inattention, operator inexperience, excess speed and improper lookout were the leading contributing factors in boating accidents and boating injuries.  Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don’t invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.

4.     Make sure your boat is properly maintained. Make sure your boat is in good working order before you take it out on the water with passengers. To help make sure your vessel is as safe as possible the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Their certified vessel examiners will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations.  Florida also has certain requirements for boating.

5.     Get an EPRIB!!!  An EPIRB or PLB is used to alert search and rescue (SAR) agencies in the event of a boating accident.  It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest Rescue Coordination Center, which then notifies rescue personnel.  If your EPIRB transmits GPS coordinates, your position can be identified in as little as 2-3 minutes.

6.     Know the law about life jackets. Florida has the unfortunate distinction of being the national leader in annual boating fatalities.  A majority of boating accidents and boating injuries result when a passenger falls overboard and drowns. These deaths can be easily prevented by wearing a lifejacket. Don’t believe it could happen to you? It happens in Florida to an average of one person each week who never thought it could happen to them either. 

7.     Know before you go.  Take a boating safety course. 80 percent of individuals who die in boating accidents have never taken a boating safety course.  Along with making sure your safety equipment is in good working order, make sure you know how to use it. Also, you can get a free vessel safety check .

8.     Watch the weather. Monitoring the forecast, as well as the marine weather forecast, is crucial to boating safely because the weather can often change quickly, leaving boaters in a precarious position if unprepared. Tune your radio to the National Weather Service to listen for small-craft warnings, and heed them.

9.     Take a boating safety course. The best way to ensure that you know the safest procedures for operating a boat is to take the Florida boating safety course.

Here are some other links to helpful information for preventing boating accidents and boating injuries
·       Accident Reporting
·        VesselSafety Check
·        File a Float Plan
·        Carbon Monoxide
·        BUI Initiatives
·        Propeller Safety

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