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Florida’s Boat Safety Guidelines

From the coastlines to the swamps, spending time on the water is a pastime that many Floridians enjoy. But between the thrill and excitement, it’s crucial to remember Florida’s boat safety guidelines. Read Klotzman Property Damage Law’s blog to learn more.

Why is boat safety important?

Florida became one of the top states for boating this year, with over one million registered vessels. However, with an increased number of boats on the water, safety is more important than ever. 

Getting familiar with boat safety is crucial because it helps reduce the risk of personal injury or property damage. Of boating fatalities, only 16% occurred on vessels operated by people who received boating safety education – compared to 75% of deaths on boats where the operator did not have safety instruction.

Boat Safety Guidelines

To best protect yourself, your passengers, and your property, you must educate yourself on the recommended boat safety guidelines. Education and training can give you the necessary skills and help you prevent any accidents.

Take a safety course

The state requires anyone born on or after January 1, 1988 to complete a boating safety course and obtain a Florida Boat Safety ID card before operating a motorboat with ten or more horsepower. 

Boat safety courses are not only required by law but provide helpful information for anyone operating a vessel. Classes may include boat handling, weather reading, radio techniques, or electronic navigation skills.  

Wear a life jacket

While they aren’t the most fashionable, life jackets save lives. Drowning is the reported cause of death in 80% of all boating fatalities, and 86% of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Personal flotation devices are crucial for swimmers and non-swimmers, especially since an emergency can happen at any time. 

In Florida, personal flotation devices are required for all boat passengers younger than nine. Federal law also requires you to have a lifejacket for everyone on every person on board the vessel. Be sure to wear them at all times since emergency situations are unpredictable.

Avoid boating under the influence

Much like driving, boating under the influence can cause serious accidents. Alcohol is the leading factor in 18% of all fatal boating accidents in the United States.

It can be tempting to drink on the boat, but staying sober is vital if you’re the operator. Florida law considers impaired boating a criminal offense, and breaking the law can lead to fines and jail time. Part of boat safety involves avoiding being under the influence.

Stay aware of wildlife

Manatees, alligators, snakes, turtles, dolphins, and more all call Florida home. While humans can safely coexist with most wildlife, staying aware of your surroundings is crucial. Several species of animals are endangered, and it is illegal to harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal. 

No matter where you are in Florida, you’ll likely see some wildlife. Be sure to give the animals space, avoid feeding them, and stay vigilant about their location. If you see a stranded or injured animal, or if you collide with an animal, call the ​​U.S. Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

Check the weather

Another crucial aspect of boat safety involves the weather. Storms are common in Florida, as are hurricanes, so it’s critical to plan for potential severe weather. Before you head out, you should always check the weather and water conditions.

If you get caught in severe weather while on the water, set a course for the nearest safe-to-approach shore. You must also ensure that everyone is wearing their lifejackets and reduce your speed to the minimum that allows continued headway.

Develop a float plan

Your float plan, or rescue plan, is vital to boat safety. This plan makes it easier for someone to find you in an emergency. It contains all the necessary information about your travel route and vessel description. You can find a template here.

Your float plan should include:

  • Your name
  • Emergency contact
  • A description of your boat
  • Travel plans
  • A list of who is on board
  • Details about your safety equipment

Leave the plan with a friend or your marina, and instruct them to call the Coast Guard if you don’t return within a reasonable time.  

Pack safety equipment

Getting out on the water is exciting, but don’t forget to pack boat safety equipment! Florida law mandates the equipment you must have for each size of the boat, and you are responsible for providing your equipment.

For boats under 16 feet long, you must have lifejackets available for every person on board, a fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal, a sound-producing device, backfire flame control, vessel lighting, and proper ventilation.

Protect your boat

When boating in Florida, there are some boat safety guidelines that you must follow. Most importantly, you must take a safety course, wear a lifejacket, and avoid boating under the influence. You should also stay aware of wildlife, check the weather, develop a float plan, and pack safety equipment. 

No matter how safe you are, accidents are always possible. If your boat was damaged, we can help you determine your options based on your insurance coverage. We will investigate, negotiate, and litigate your case.Schedule your free case review today with your Hollywood property damage attorney. When insurance companies fail, Klotzman Property Damage Law succeeds.

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