Palm Beach boaters: Stay safe this Memorial Day weekend

May 24th, 2012 - by DKRPA

With Memorial Day weekend now upon us, we are approaching one of the biggest boating weekends in Florida. This means lots of fun in the sun, as long as boaters remember to act with sound judgment and follow boating regulations.

In many cases, boating mishaps, injuries and fatalities are a result of negligence. Serious injuries and even deaths can be avoided if owners and operators of boats would simply adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Understand boating rules: Collisions with other vessels are the most common types of boating accidents. The second most common types of boating accidents are collisions with fixed objects. Boating navigation rules can easily be learned by taking a safety course, which can go a long way in preventing these types of crashes.

  • Wear life jackets: If a boating accident occurs, it is possible that some passengers will fall overboard. Without a life jacket on, people on board the boat are in danger of death. In fact, more than half of all fatal boat accident victims were not wearing life jackets. This may be one of the primary reasons Florida led the nation with 79 boating-related fatalities in 2010.

  • Do not drink while operating a boat: Consuming alcohol while operating a boat is dangerous and causes the most fatal boating accidents each year. In Florida, a boater is considered under the influence if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or blood alcohol levels are between .05 and 08 along with other evidence of intoxication. A boater who is involved in an accident causing property damage, injury or death while boating under the influence can be charged with a felony.

  • Have a plan in case your vessel breaks down: Make sure you have a first aid kit and a way to communicate for help, both of which may mean the difference between life and death in the event of an accident.

    Many boating accidents are preventable, and staying safe does not mean you cannot have fun. Yet all it takes is for one momentary lapse in judgment for the weekend to end in senseless tragedy. Hopefully, this weekend boaters will avoid negligent boating and will take the responsibility of being on the water seriously.

    Source: Treasure Coast Palm, “Keep boating fun by keeping it safe,” Ed Killer, May 18, 2012