In Florida, especially around here in Stuart and the greater Martin County,
Memorial Day weekend means honoring our veterans and spending some time
out over the water. Whether you are taking a trip down St. Lucie River
or heading out to the ocean for some fishing with friends, you must keep
safety as your number one priority. To help stay safe, always remember
these safety tips and hints.
Check the weather: A little bit of wind and rain might not bother you when you’re driving
down the street but while you are boating, it can be a major safety concern.
Never go out on the water without first checking local and updated weather
reports. Bring a trusty radio onto your craft it does not have one preinstalled
so you can get minute-by-minute weather updates. If the clouds darken
and the temperature suddenly drops, head back to harbor, for these are
early warning signs of inclement weather right around the corner.
Make a checklist: Being prepared for any unfortunate situation means being thorough. Create
a checklist with the help of others who will be going boating with you
and use it before departure. Your checklist should include necessary supplies,
general safety rules that must be followed while on the watercraft, and
Avoidance maneuvers: There are a few things on the water you should always keep at a safe distance.
Large vessels that are not capable of stopping or steering at a moment’s
notice should be given their needed space. You should also not steer close
to buoys, which may cause damage to a vessel upon collision, despite their
seemingly harmless appearance.
Lifejackets and lifesavers: This cannot be stressed enough: make certain everyone has a properly-fitted
lifejacket at all times, including any pets you bring onboard. There should
be at least one lifesaver you can throw to someone who has fallen overboard
in the event that they had removed their lifejacket. If you are worried
about fashion, there are inflatable models available that are less bulky
when not in use.
Unofficial skipper: It is not safe to have only one person onboard who can operate your watercraft.
Before you leave the harbor or dock, make someone your skipper-for-the-day
and teach them the basics of controlling the vehicle, in case you should
become incapacitated or, in a more likely scenario, you fall overboard.
Notification: Someone who is not going on your boating trip should be notified about
your float plan, or how long you plan to stay on the water and about where
you will be. It helps to make a physical copy of your float plan to give
this person, who should be a close friend or a staff member at the marina
or harbor you are departing from. Include your contact information, the
name and phone numbers of everyone else going with you, a specific description
of your vessel, where you plan to go and for how long, and any sort of
emergency equipment you will have onboard so they can contact you.
Sobriety: Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal in
most cases – a crime known as BUI – but it is
always dangerous. Do not allow yourself or your skipper to consume any alcoholic
beverages. Ideally, no one onboard will be intoxicated, for the disorienting
effects of alcohol may cause someone to fall overboard more easily.
Safety check: Did you know that the United States Coast Guard offers completely free
vessel examinations, usually once per year for each registered watercraft?
Head over to their website (by clicking
here) and schedule one to make certain your boat is up to Coast Guard safety
standards. It really does not get much easier than that when it comes
to boating safety.
Of course, all the best safety practices in the world cannot protect you
from the dangers of other negligent boaters. If you get into a
boating accident that is not your fault this Memorial Day weekend, be sure to call
866.675.4427 to talk with a Stuart personal injury attorney from Lauri J. Goldstein
& Associates, PLLC.