Prepare for Boating Season with These 8 Safety Tips

One of the perks of living in Florida is that we have a much bigger window in which to enjoy outdoor activities. Boating is a favorite pastime for locals and tourists alike, and while you can pretty much boat any time of the year in the Sunshine State, things start to pick up noticeably in the spring season.

Enjoying the beauty of the open water is an amazing experience, but it is not without its dangers. When a boat operator is experienced, everyone on board is much less likely to be involved in a boating mishap. On the other hand, when it is captained by a novice, a boating excursion can quickly turn into a nightmare.

If you’re not convinced that experience is vital for a boat operator, consider the statistics: In 2015, over 70 percent of boating-related fatalities occurred in situations where the operator had not received boating safety instructions, according to the United States Coast Guard. Conversely, only 15 percent of boating-related fatalities happened on a boat with an operator who had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate.

Whether you're new to the boating game or you want to revisit your boating safety checklist before hitting the water this season, we’ve prepared a few tips to help ensure things go as smoothly as possible. First, let’s look at some more boating statistics so we understand how boating accidents happen.

Boating Accident Statistics

In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available:

  • There were 4,158 boating accidents counted by the Coast Guard.
  • In those accidents, there were 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and $40 million of property damage.
  • Seventy-six percent of boating-related fatalities died of drowning.
  • Eighty-five percent of the drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket.
  • The leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents was alcohol use.
  • The five leading primary factors in boating accidents are operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure and excessive speed.

It’s worth noting that four of the five primary factors in boating accidents are attributable to human error, which means they are preventable. In other words, these accidents don’t have to happen. Through experience, safety awareness, instruction and preparedness, we can reduce the number of boating accidents and ensure that we and our loved ones don’t become a statistic.

The boat operator bears much of the responsibility in keeping all passengers safe, but others on board can also do their part by looking out for dangers and assisting the operator in the duty of captaining a boat.

8 Boating Safety Tips

So, now that we have a clearer picture of why boating accidents happen, let’s consider the following tips.

  • Have the boat inspected before the season begins.
  • Check to make sure the boat has enough gas and that the battery is fully charged.
  • Make sure your boat operator has received boating safety training. If you are new to boating and plan to operate the vessel, seek out nationally-approved safety training.
  • Everyone on board should be wearing a Coast Guard-approved life preserver.
  • Keep safety kits on board and make sure you have enough provisions in case of an emergency. These provisions should include items such as food, water and blankets.
  • Once the boating venture is underway, keep everyone on board in a designated sitting area to reduce the chances of anyone going overboard or falling over inside the boat.
  • Keep everyone on board away from the propeller. In 2015, 150 people were injured and 27 people lost their lives because they were struck by a propeller.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol on the boat. The operator of the boat should have absolutely NO alcohol.
  • No one wants to be the victim of a boating accident. They are terrifying experiences that often have dire consequences. We hope these tips will keep you and your loved ones safe on the water this season.

    If you or a loved one has had the unfortunate experience of being injured in a boating accident, you might have legal options. When an injury is caused by another person’s negligence, such as an impaired or inexperienced boat operator, you can file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for the damages you have suffered.

    If you have any questions about this topic, or have been hurt in a boating accident, you can find out more by discussing it with the Miami, FL, boat accident attorneys at Stabinski Law For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless accident victims, and we are highly experienced in handling a wide range of personal injury cases throughout South Florida. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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