Boat Safety

Boating season is in full swing in Florida waters. Whether you’re hitting the Gulf of Mexico or one of the many rivers and lakes in our beautiful state, boating is an excellent way to get outdoors, even when it’s as hot as it has been lately.

If you’re a new boat owner—and even if you’re more experienced—here are some basic reminders to help your next boat trip be nothing but smooth sailing.

Before you launch

Familiarize yourself with the rules of the water. This includes such things such as knowing what signs and symbols mean and rules for encountering other vessels on the water. You may want to take a boater safety course, and if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, you are required to do so by law if you operate a motorized boat of 10 horsepower or more. Boating safety courses are inexpensive or even free.

Equip your boat properly. Make sure you have the safety equipment you need in case of an emergency. This includes a fire extinguisher, a radio (cell service on the water can be spotty), a paddle or oars, and a noise maker such as a whistle or horn to draw attention to your location if something goes wrong. And most importantly, make sure everyone onboard has a Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (life jacket)—even your pet! There are different types of life jackets for different types of water, but the best one is the one you’ll wear. Life jackets should be worn while on the water, since you may not have time to put one on if an emergency arises.

Stock your boat with basic first aid and tool kits, and make sure you have plenty of drinking water on hand.

Check weather conditions—especially those for wind and small-craft advisories.

And before you set out, leave word with someone about where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone.

On the water

Once you’re on the water, aside from enjoying the beautiful scenery, make sure you keep a sharp lookout at all times. Watch for other vessels, swimmers, shallow water, debris, and any areas where the natural environment is delicate—in some cases, watch out for manatees! These slow-moving creatures suffer injuries at the hands of boaters every year.

Maintain a safe speed and distance from other vessels. Follow the rules of the water, and take extra care in busy areas, such as boat launches or docks.

Make sure all passengers ride safely—not on the bow, gunwales or seat backs, and that everyone wears their life jacket.

Never operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

L & M Insurance Group has boat insurance

One more thing: Enjoy the water more knowing that both your boat and your financial liability are protected by boat insurance. Most boat insurance policies cover physical damage to or theft of the boat itself, property damage you cause to another vessel or structure, and medical payments for injuries to you (the boat owner) and your family. You may also want coverage for injuries to people other than your family, guest passenger liability (coverage for someone using your boat with your permission), and/or coverage for your boat trailer and accessories. Discuss which deductibles and limits are right for you with your insurance agent.

If you need boat insurance, please give L & M Insurance Group a call at (813) 672-4100 or contact us online by clicking here. We write boat insurance policies in addition to our competitive homeowners, renters, auto, and commercial insurance. Our agency is located in Riverview, and also serves Brandon, Valrico, Lithia, Tampa, and surrounding communities.

For more information:

The Florida Boater’s Guide

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