Spring breakers from around the country have begun flocking to the Sunshine State and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding everyone to enjoy their spring break safely.
“Nothing can ruin a great day on the water quicker than a boating accident,” said Maj. Alberto Maza, South Region Bravo Regional Commander. “So, we are encouraging everyone coming to the beautiful Fishing and Boating Capital of the World to stay safe while enjoying our beautiful waterways.”
Life jackets save lives. Statistics show that drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents and that most people who drown in these accidents were not wearing a life jacket. Boating accidents are unpredictable, so wearing a life jacket at all times is the best protection.
“There are many kinds of life jackets now available on the market,” said Capt. Rachel Bryant, FWC Boating and Waterways Boating Safety Leader. “Whether you are fishing, paddling, operating or riding a boat, kayak, personal watercraft or any other type of vessel, there are many comfortable choices available, so make sure to choose the best one for you.”
Know what is going on around you and your boat at all times. The operator of a boat should always maintain 360-degree awareness. It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure they are avoiding other boaters, people in the water, navigational hazards and are aware of all posted boating restricted areas, such as manatee zones. A leading contributor to boating accidents is operator inattention or failure to maintain a proper lookout.
“Unfortunately, each year FWC officers respond to too many tragic accidents that could have been prevented,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “It only takes following a few simple and effective safety precautions to potentially save lives.”
The FWC has zero-tolerance for operating a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“Our officers will be looking for impaired operators and removing them from the water by arrest,” said Col. Roger Young, FWC Director of Law Enforcement. “Operating a vessel while impaired puts everyone around you in danger.”
Have a plan, know where you are going, check your safety equipment and watch the weather. Let family and friends know where you are going and when you will return.
To report dangerous activity on the water, call 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) or text 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” followed by the location and any information you can about the violation.
For more information on boating safety or to find out how to sign up for an FWC recommended boating safety course, visit: MyFWC.com/Boating.