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Safe boating tips to keep in mind this weekend on the water

Safe boating tips to keep in mind this weekend on the water

  • PublishedMay 22, 2024

Though many First Coast residents aren’t new to boating, it’s never a bad idea to touch up on some safety facts when it comes to the weather and proper life jackets.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Captain Mike Haas with Sea Tow expects anywhere from 30 to 50 rescue jobs this Memorial Day weekend.

“Mainly, it’s operator error,” said Haas.

While his jobs usually include boats that have run aground, run out of gas or need battery jumps, worse accidents do happen, and that is why he stresses always wearing a life jacket.

“When something goes wrong, it happens so quickly and there’s not a lot of response time,” said Haas. “You might not have a chance to put it on, or you might not be able to find it if the boat rolls over or floods. And you could be caught up and you could drown.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2022 Recreational Boating Statistics, the latest record of reporting boating accidents in the country, 75% of boating deaths are due to drowning, and two-thirds of drowning victims were considered good swimmers.

Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the victims were wearing life jackets. There are many different, modern types of life jackets you can select for your safety needs and comfort.

Always check the weather before heading out and keep an eye on it while on the boat.

With strong winds and high waves, reduce your speed and head to shore. With waterspouts, head at a 90-degree angle away from the apparent motion of that waterspout. With lightning, head to shore or stay in the boat’s cabin.

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Even outside of the weather, stay aware of your surroundings on the boat.

“If you go to stop, always look behind you before you throttle down,” said Haas. “People aren’t paying attention. They’re talking. And just look out for the other motor.”

Don’t forget to gear up properly before you launch your boat.

“Make sure you check your fuel, keep your boat maintained properly, and use all the safety gear that’s available for you,” said Haas.

Remember these tips and have a fun and safe weekend on the water!

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