The Coast Guard’s 2019 Recreational Boating Statistics report a total of 4,168 boat crashes, including 613 total fatalities, 2,559 injuries, and an astounding $55 million in property damage. The Coast Guard also reported that 79% of recreational boating deaths involved drowning victims, and 86% of fatal drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. While southern Florida is the boating capital of the U.S., and few things beat a hot sunny day on the water, just one tiny slip up and what was supposed to be a fun-filled day can instantly transform into a nightmare. Anytime you head out on the water, it’s essential to be as prepared as possible to avoid preventable accidents. 

Tips For Avoiding Boating Accidents

  1. Every Single Passenger Must Wear A Life Jacket: No matter if they know how to swim or not, it’s essential for everybody on your watercraft to wear a life jacket. Keep life jackets in easily accessible areas, and inspect them often to ensure that they’re not torn, ripped, or unusable. You should also be familiar with Florida life jacket laws; children under the age of 6 must wear aUSCG-approved life jacket on boats under 26 feet long on Florida waterways. 
  2. Boat Safety Starts Before Sailing: Before even getting on the water, you need to ensure that your vessel is in good working condition. You should regularly inspect your vessel for proper throttle, steering, fuel and battery line, and switch and cable function. If you haven’t taken your boat out in a while, you should inspect it thoroughly before getting on the water.
  3. Be Aware And Prepared: A nice day can be enveloped by a thunderstorm in the blink of an eye! Always have the radio on to listen for any severe weather warnings, and keep an eye on the sky at all times, because once dark clouds start hanging over your vessel, it may be too late to get back to shore. 
  4. Don’t Drink And Boat: Drinking while boating is dangerous, just like drinking and driving, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can disrupt your balance. This, combined with potential weather issues or choppy waves can easily lead to passengers falling overboard. 
  5. Follow Proper Traffic Guidelines: Remember that larger boats like sailboats, fishing boats, etc. have the right of way. You should always stay to the right when approaching another vessel, and yield to the boat approaching from the right. 
  6. Watch If You Overload: A boat that is loaded with too much weight can easily capsize. The weight on your boat should be distributed evenly’ secure your anchor to the bow (the front of the boat), and when the boat moves at faster speeds, tell passengers to remain seated to avoid falling overboard. 

Contact Us Today

By following basic safety guidelines, you should be able to keep yourself and your passengers safe and avoid any preventable boating mishaps. However, boating accidents can occur even if you’re a very safe boater. If you are the victim of a Florida boating accident, call Bechert & Associates to consult with an experienced boating accident lawyer today.