Florida is called the Sunshine State. It’s the destination of millions every year when they are looking for an escape from ice and snow. It’s a destination where many go to retire. It’s a destination where college students go to be crazy at Spring Break. Oh, and let’s not forget bikers at the weeklong celebration they have too. Beaches, theme parks, golfing, motorcycles; yes Florida has it all. What they also have is water and lots of it. This naturally attracts boaters. Florida is a boater’s paradise. They have everything from oceans for exciting boat rides, to rivers and lakes for waterskiing, jet skiing and kayaking to swamp and marsh areas for wildlife observation. Because of all this, Florida has approximately one million registered vessels and an estimated one million unregistered vessels. That equals a ton of boats in the water. Where there are boats there are boating incidents.
Not only does Florida have the most boats registered in the country, the state can also claim the most boating accidents in the country. In 2011 the accidents involving water craft were 742 with 67 of them involving fatalities. It is not unusual to have a boating accident highlighted nightly on the news.
The main causes of these boating incidents are; speeding or reckless operation, drugs or alcohol usage, not paying attention to the area, not experienced, not following all safety procedures and not having a properly maintained watercraft. There will always be accidents, but ensuring that you don’t fall into any of these categories will reduce your chances of being involved in a boating accident.
If you do find yourself involved in a boating accident, there are several things to remember. If it is safe to do so, remain at the scene of the accident. Authorities will need to look at how the vessels are positioned. If there is someone hurt, render first aid and call for help. Always report the accident. In Florida it is the law to report an incident where someone has died or someone is missing. It is also the law to report an incident where the damage in more than $2000.
Boating is meant to be fun. Following the laws and rules of the water will make it safer for everyone out there. Take precautions to be safe or you might be responsible if an incident occurs. Don’t let a watercraft accident turn your day on the water into a tragedy.