The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement reminds boaters to exercise caution and practice safe boating during the Labor Day holiday weekend, traditionally a time of increased boating traffic on waterways. Boaters are reminded not to operate vessels under the influence. In addition to decreasing the operator’s ability to make sound judgments, the consumption of alcohol also negatively affects the ability of passengers to respond in the case of an emergency on the water.
“Labor Day is dedicated to the contributions and accomplishments of American workers, and we want boaters to safely enjoy this special day,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s Boating and Waterways section leader. “You can enjoy a holiday weekend safely on the water by wearing a life jacket, filing a float plan, taking a boating safety course, and never operating any boat or other watercraft while under the influence.”
The FWC recommends the following safe boating practices:
- Never boat under the influence. Have a designated sober operator.
Always wear a life jacket aboard a vessel.
- Have a float plan. Let family and friends know where you are going and when you will return. The sooner rescuers can get on the water and to the location of an overdue boater, the more likely the outcome will be positive.
- Purchase, register, and have onboard the boat an emergency locator beacon. This could be an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). These devices can be used by any boater to ensure search-and-rescue teams find you quickly in the event of an emergency.
- Take a boating safety course. According to FWC boating accident statistics, 69% of operators involved in fatal boating accidents in 2020 had no formal boater education.
Watch the weather. The National Weather Service broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly by radio or check the NWS website at noaa.gov.
To report people who are operating boats dangerously, call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating.