Florida FWC Urges Caution for Labor Day Boaters

Labor Day traditionally marks the end of the summer boating season, and theFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) urges boaters to use extra caution over the upcoming busy holiday.

“We want to mark the end of the summer on a high note,” said Capt. Carol Keyser of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “We’re urging boaters to operate their vessels with caution, know the navigation rules, have all the necessary safety equipment on board, and wear life jackets. If you drink alcohol, be sure to use a nondrinking designated driver and, most importantly, pay close attention to what’s going on around you.”

Florida has about one million registered vessels, and accident statistics are sobering. Florida recorded 65 boating fatalities in 2009, with almost 70 percent of the victims drowning. Typically, deaths resulted from falling overboard or from vessels capsizing or flooding. The FWC urges boaters to purchase an inflatable life jacket and to wear it while boating.

Most of Florida’s reportable boating accidents involved a boat running into another boat, a fixed object, a person in the water or a submerged object. The FWC reminds boat operators to maintain a proper lookout at all times when on the water to avoid collisions.

“Boating tragedies all too often mar holiday weekends in Florida,” Keyser said. “Operating your boat with caution, knowing the navigation rules, choosing not to drink while boating, and wearing a life jacket can help to ensure a fun, yet safe, holiday weekend on the water.”