It is estimated that Florida has over 30,000 lakes. Our lakes allow for some great boating locations to enjoy fun on the water with family and friends. From fishing, water skiing and just relaxing on the water, there is no shortage of activities. While the area’s lakes provide plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun, they also allow for some dangerous situations as well. Whether you are an experienced boat owner/operator or it’s your first time on the water, it is best to always practice boating safety. Below are a few tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe on the water.
• Check the weather report. Before setting out, always check the water and weather report so you’re aware of any dangerous conditions that could arise while you’re on the water.
• Develop a float plan. A float plan includes notifying someone of your itinerary. Include your name, phone number, boating route and destination, estimated time of departure and arrival, number of passengers and a description of your boat.
• Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Ensure you and your passengers always wear property fitted life jackets when out on the water.
• Have additional safety equipment on board. Before setting out, ensure you have a charged cell phone, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flares and other safety equipment on board. With a quick web search you can locate a pre-departure checklist.
• Check your fuel levels. Make sure you have enough fuel prior to setting out to avoid getting stuck.
• Don’t go Boating Under the Influence (BUI). Just like driving under the influence, it is prohibited to operate a vessel or boat with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher.
• Know the rules of the “road”. Similar to rules for driving a car on a road, there are rules for operating a boat in the water. These rules range from who has the right of way and what is considered an accident to understanding idle speeds and wake zones.
Please remember that these tips are not all inclusive but rather a reminder to practice boating safety. By doing so you can continue to share fun times with your family and friends for years to come.