It’s easy to see why Florida is the number one boating destination in the United States—we have thousands of miles of tidal shoreline, Intracoastal Waterways, lakes, and rivers to explore. The waters around Tampa Bay are especially beautiful, and boaters can go from roaming a secluded beach to pulling up to the dock at one of Tampa’s waterside restaurants—all in one day!
Unfortunately, Florida also is the national leader in boating fatalities each year. At L & M Insurance Group, we want to see you out enjoying the boating life, not coping with a life-threatening emergency. Here are five basics to help you boat safe this summer:
- If you haven’t already, take a boat safety course. Click here for a free online safe boating course endorsed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- Inspect your boat each time you get ready to take it out. Among other things, inspect the hull for damage, make sure the boat’s lights work properly, and that you have enough fuel. (Click here for a full pre-departure checklist.)
- Make sure all safety equipment is in good working order, including life vests (see below), fire extinguishers (make sure yours is U.S. Coast Guard approved), emergency flares, and a carbon monoxide monitor (especially if your boat has an enclosed cabin). If your boat is 16 feet or more, you must also have at least one Type IV throwable flotation device, such as a life ring or flotation cushion. Also make sure you have a first aid kit on board.
- Have a life vest for every person on board your boat. Make sure the vests fit properly and are in good condition. Most important: make sure everyone actually wears his or her life vest. The main cause of boating fatalities is boaters falling overboard who are not wearing life vests—an average of one person a week. Remember, it’s the unexpected event that poses the most danger—rough water or losing your balance, for example, can land you overboard with no time to find and put on your life vest.
- Don’t drink alcohol while boating. It’s illegal to operate a boat under the influence of alcohol, and your judgment and reaction time decline even faster in a boating environment than on land. The use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating deaths, and the penalties for “Boating Under the Influence” can include fines or even jail time.
And, of course, make sure your boat insurance is current before you brave the waves. Give L & M Insurance Group a call at 813-672-4100 for a boat insurance quote. Our boat insurance policies are designed to fit the needs and budget of today’s boater. Happy boating!