Is Boating Safety on Your Mind?

Often times when going fishing, boating safety is the last thing on your mind. Don't overlook this important topic as it could be a deadly mistake.

In 2009 there were 982,470 registered vessels in the state of Florida, 620 boating accidents, resulting in 426 injuries that accounted for 65 deaths.

Many of these accidents could have been prevented with paying closer attention to the safety aspect of being on the water.

If going fishing alone, your safest bet is to wear your PFD (personal flotation device) at all times. In 2009 the main cause of fatal boating accidents were people that fell overboard making up 39% of all fatalities.

Something else often overlooked is the consumption of alcohol. Many times the mentality is you can consume as much alcohol as you would like while driving a vessel. This assumption is wrong and can be very dangerous. Your legal limit is the same as if you were behind the wheel of an automobile, .08 blood or breath alcohol limit. In 2009 18.5% of fatalities were caused by people being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Some basic Florida boating laws are:

• All boats no matter what size must have a flotation device for each person on board.

• Boats 16ft or longer must have a throwable PFD (personal flotation device) on board

• Must have a fire extinguisher on board

• Must have a whistle or horn

• Must have signal flares (the law varies depending on what size vessel).

• Must have navigation lights at night or in low visibility conditions such as rain or fog.

As Florida leads the country with the most boating accidents, it is now mandatory as of Friday, January 1, 2010 for anyone born on or before January 1st, 1988 that is wanting to operate a vessel with 10hp or more must take and pass a boating safety course. To find a course visit and click on the "Flotilla Finder" link.

There are many more Florida boating laws, these are just some of the basics and some of the statistics related to boat safety. You should read over all the State laws for Florida. You can go to for more info.

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