A Guide to Safe Boating in Florida – Tips from a Tallahassee Injury Lawyer
They say we learn more from our mistakes than our success. So when it comes to boating safety, a Tallahassee injury lawyer wants you to learn from the mistakes made by others.
The U.S. Coast Guard reported a significant increase in boating accidents in 2020, resulting in 767 deaths and nearly 3,200 injuries. However, many of those boating accidents could have been prevented with the right approach and preparation.
You don’t want to become one of the statistics. Here’s a brief overview of some practices that could improve your safety on the water.
Start with the Right Knowledge
We expect drivers on the roads to take classes, learn the rules, and practice their skills to avoid auto accidents. The same should hold true for vehicles on the water, including personal watercraft.
Ideally, before operating a boat, it is a good idea to have everyone in the family take a safety course offered by a well-respected organization. In addition, anyone operating a boat should understand and know how to apply Florida boating laws and local requirements. Coast Guard statistics show that the vast majority of boating fatalities occurred in situations where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.
In addition to this general knowledge, you can increase your safety by acquiring some specific knowledge. When you know the waterways where you’ll be boating and the hazards you could face, you can be prepared to steer the best course through. It is also a good idea to thoroughly understand the operation and safety features of the vessel you will be operating, particularly if it is unfamiliar, such as a rental craft. Also, be aware of the hazards posed by carbon monoxide poisoning in a marine environment. Finally, a Tallahassee injury lawyer often sees the impact that proper first aid can have after a boating accident. First aid training is a valuable part of safety on land or at sea.
Life Jackets Must Be Mandatory
Wearing a life jacket is not sexy, and it is often not comfortable. But it is essential for boating safety. In 2020, the Coast Guard reported that drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents, and 86% of those who drowned after an accident were not wearing life jackets.
Good swimmers often feel that they do not need to wear a life jacket, particularly in calm waters. However, all the strength and skills in the world do no good for an accident victim who is knocked unconscious or too injured to swim. A proper-fitting life jacket will keep the victim’s head above water and facilitate rescue operations.
Prepare Before Setting Out
A Tallahassee injury lawyer has seen many instances where lack of proper preparations led to disaster on the water. Ensure that all equipment is in working order and that you have appropriate tools and a first-aid kit. Before leaving, create a float plan, and make sure someone knows it. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offers a basic float plan you can quickly customize. If your group should fail to return as expected, the plan makes it easier for rescue crews to find you.
Finally, make sure to bring drinking water and wear sunscreen. Sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion can easily cause disorientation and impede judgment while operating a boat.
Watch the Weather
Being out on the water can be an exhilarating experience. You may feel free as a bird. However, it is important to remember that you are not a bird, and you are out of your element. Be aware of the signs of a sudden, potentially dangerous storm such as:
- A sudden drop in temperature
- Increased wind
- Storm clouds
- A drop in barometric pressure
Keep an eye on weather forecasts as well, and play it safe. If conditions indicate a storm, head for land.
Make Smart Choices
Drinking goes hand in hand with boating for many people. It is a dangerous combination. A Tallahassee injury lawyer has seen devastating results when people operate a boat after drinking.
Even if you don’t consume enough alcohol to put you over the legal limit, that alcohol is still likely to impact your judgment and could cause you to take unnecessary risks or make mistakes.
Of course, even when completely sober, boaters can be tempted to do things they know they should not. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the limits of your abilities and capability of your boat and respect those limits.
Take Special Precautions When Towing Water Skis, Tubes, or Wakeboards
The potential for accidents and serious injuries increases dramatically when you tow someone on water skis, a tube, or a wakeboard. Before starting out, review basic hand signals and designate someone on board to serve as the spotter. Check to see that the tow line is not frayed, caught in the propeller, or wrapped around the person being towed.
Extra education can be a lifesaver for water skiers, tubers, and wakeboarders. They need to know how to use the tow rope and get up safely. They also need to be taught to wait for the propeller to stop before climbing back onto the boat.
Because of the added risks, it is best to avoid water skiing, tubing, or wakeboarding at night or when visibility is poor.
Contact a Tallahassee Injury Lawyer for Assistance After a Boating Accident
You can take every available safety step and still suffer injuries in a boating accident if someone else fails to act responsibly. Even if your safety measures don’t prevent an accident, they can decrease the severity of your injuries. Moreover, your responsible actions could make it easier to recover compensation when someone else is negligent.
However, even when it is obvious that another person caused a boat accident, you will still need to collect evidence and demonstrate liability. Working with an experienced Tallahassee injury lawyer soon after an accident could make the process easier and improve your ability to receive full and fair compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. To talk to a dedicated boat accident attorney about what may be possible in your case, call Searcy Denney today at 888-549-7011 or contact us online for a free consultation and case evaluation.