Florida’s beautiful blue waters make it a boater’s paradise. While boating is a fun hobby, being on the open water can be dangerous. Sadly, Florida currently sits atop the national lists of not only the states with the most boating accidents, but also the states with the most boating fatalities. Like with any other outdoor activity, accidents that are beyond our control can sometimes happen. There are, however, several important safety tips you should follow whenever you are at sea to keep you and your family as safe as possible.

Wear a Life jacket

Bulky life jackets may be problematic if you are trying to achieve a perfect tan. Life jackets, however, they are lifesavers. If you fall overboard, even the strongest swimmer may need assistance. You could be knocked unconscious, or you may have to tread water for some time until you are rescued. Wearing a life jacket could save your life by having something to support you in the water. Your vessel should always have enough life jackets for everyone on board.

Communication is Key

In order to remain safe while on the water, communication is key. There are several aspects of communication that you should follow. First, communicate with others before you leave. It is important to inform people who are remaining on land of your plans on the water. Those on board should also keep open communication with each other, with one person in charge. Additionally, make sure your vessel is equipped with a radio, cell phone and flares in case of an emergency.

Keep an Eye on the Forecast

Boating trips should begin before you leave the dock. Plan your route prior to your departure. You can file a trip report over your radio or fill out paperwork with the coastguard before you leave. This will ensure that someone knows your plan and will be alerted if you do not return as scheduled. Additionally, check all weather and marine forecasts prior to your departure. If there are severe storm warnings, you will want to stay home. Fast approaching inclement weather can be very dangerous, especially with smaller vessels.

Stay Vigilant

Sometimes on the open water it feels as if you are all alone. While there may not be any boats around, you must still remain aware of your surroundings. Other obstacles can surface such as reefs, shallow sandbanks, rough waters and storms, posing a serious threat to your safety. You need to be at peak performance at all times. Stay away from alcohol or drugs while boating. If you are feeling sleepy or sick, it is best to stay off the water. Be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant so that you are prepared if an emergency arises.

Safety Check

Before you leave the docket, you should perform a safety check on your boat. Even if you just used your boat, you should still make sure that everything is in order. Check for leaks, ensure the engine is working properly, and make sure that you have a secondary source of power. Always carry food, a first aid kit, communication tools, knives, flashlights and other supplies in case of an emergency.

At Wittmer & Linehan PLLC, we know how enjoyable a day at sea can be. We also understand that being on the open water can be dangerous.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident through no fault of your own, you have the responsibility to consult with an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Let the experienced attorneys at Wittmer & Linehan examine your case and help you determine if legal action is the right option for you.