TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the Labor Day weekend continues, safety experts are warning those enjoying the water to keep safety top of mind. Florida leads the nation in the number of registered boats which means there’s gonna be a lot of people enjoying the day off on the water.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is making the following advice:
The FWC encourages boaters to check safety equipment before getting out on the water. In addition to having the required equipment such as life jackets, whistle/ horn, lights, fire extinguisher and flares, make sure you have optional equipment (based on where you are boating) that can help in an emergency.
The FWC encourages boaters to find a comfortable life jacket and always wear it while boating. According to 2019 FWC boating accident statistics, 66% of the boating deaths were due to drowning. Emergency situations can cause a boater to end up in the water unexpectedly, and a person may not have time to grab their life jacket before they find themselves in the water.
The FWC reminds boaters that boating while impaired by alcohol or drugs is dangerous and illegal. FWC officers will be looking for impaired operators and these operators will face arrest if found to be operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to FWC boating accident statistics, 32% of the boating fatalities in 2019 were alcohol or drug related.
Health experts are also reminding people we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Even on a boat avoid large gatherings, and try to stick with people you share your home with or close family.
If someone would like to report a dangerous boat operator or boating violations you can call FWC’s 24-hour hotline; 888-404-FWCC (3922).