Now that March has come, all over the country people will be gathering in warm climates for spring break. If you’re planning on going out on the water for this spring break, no matter if you’re in college or are just taking the kids out during their time off, it’s important to remember to boat safely.
Every year people are seriously hurt on the water. Drowning and trauma caused by collisions between two or more watercrafts are the most common causes of injuries suffered on the water. Often these injuries would have been prevented had the boaters taken precaution and observed simple boating safety. With that in mind, here are some simple boating tips that can keep you safe this spring break as you enjoy boating on the Indian River Lagoon.
Whether it’s you or people you’re boating around, alcohol is almost guaranteed to have an impact on boaters during spring break. Many boating accidents are at least partly influenced by the existence of alcohol. The fact that beer, cocktails, and other spirits are regularly consumed during the week of spring break makes vigilance on the water that much more critical.
The risks of drinking on the water extend beyond the safety issue. Florida is the state with the most boating incidents involving alcohol so they are strict on drinking while piloting a vessel. A first conviction of BUI can land you a fine of between $500 and $1,000 plus six months imprisonment and a second conviction can land you a fine of between $1,000 and $2,000 plus nine months imprisonment.
Wear Life Jackets
The most common injuries in water accidents are due to drowning. Wearing a life jacket will significantly decrease the chances that you will drown from a boating accident. This is particularly true for young boaters.
When in a serious boating accident, those inside the boat can easily get thrown out and into the waters. This is particularly dangerous if the water is rough that day. U.S. Coast Guard Approved life jackets are designed to keep your head above water and help you to remain in a position that helps your breathing. Boats that are 16 feet or bigger must also have at least one Type IV device as well that those in the water can cling onto.
Adult-sized life jackets won’t work for children so be sure that everyone on the boat has a life jacket in their size. Also be sure to discard any life jackets that are waterlogged, faded, or leaky as these may not work properly in the event of an emergency situation.
Only Ride With a Trained Driver
At no point should anyone who hasn’t had the proper training be driving the boat. Just like if you have someone without a license driving on the highway, an untrained person piloting a vessel is dangerous to those in their boat and other vessels around them. Some studies have suggested that three out of every four boating accidents are due to driver error further validating the point of having a qualified driver in the pilot’s seat.
No matter how careful you are faulty safety equipment can result in an accident. So no matter whether you’re in your own boat or renting a boat, it’s a good idea to go through a “vessel check” to ensure that you have all the proper safety equipment and that it is all in working order. A pre-trip check of all your safety equipment could end up being the difference between life and death on a boat.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
It’s important to be cautious about the condition of the water that you’re boating on. Some environments are much more dangerous to boat on than others. This is especially so if the weather turns bad while you’re on the water. In these cases, it’s important to know when it’s time to head back to port to avoid a potential catastrophe.
If an area where you’re boating looks to be overcrowded, it may not be a good area to enjoy watersports such as skiing, tubing, or jet skiing. In areas where there is considerable overcrowding the potential of collision is much higher.
Spring break is a great time to go out and enjoy a day on the water. However, there are certain aspects of spring break that make time on the water more dangerous. Make sure you abide by these guidelines to ensure your safety.