Tips for Avoiding Boating Accidents and Ensuring a Safe Day on the Water
Boating on the turquoise waters of South Florida is one of the most exciting parts of visiting Miami. From the affordable to the extravagant, there are rental boats to accommodate everyone’s taste. While renting a boat can be fun, it can also be dangerous if you are ill-prepared.
At Mase Mebane Seitz, we provide dedicated legal representation for individuals who have been hurt in boating accidents in Miami or throughout South Florida. Our mission is to help injured parties obtain the largest recovery possible after a preventable accident on the water.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact our office at (844) 627-3529 for a free consultation.
If you are visiting the Miami area, follow this rental boat safety checklist before heading out on the water:
Use a Reputable Boat Livery
There are dozens of places to rent a boat from in South Florida, but finding a reputable boat livery can be difficult. You want to be sure that the boat you are renting is seaworthy and that the livery is properly insured.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), boating liveries are required to provide:
- Proper safety gear;
- Boats that do not exceed the recommended horsepower or load capacity;
- Pre-rental instructions;
- Boating safety information; and
- An on-the-water demonstration and a ride check to evaluate the proficiency of the renter.
Before you rent, do your research. Check online to see if the company has negative reviews or if past customers voiced concerns over safety. If more than one person has commented that their rental vessel stopped working or lacked adequate gear, move on to the next rental company.
Take a Boater Safety Course
Pursuant to FWC boating regulations, you must be 18 years of age or older to rent a boat in Florida. In addition, residents and nonresidents must comply with boating safety education requirements to operate a motorboat of ten (10) horsepower or greater. This can usually be achieved by completing an approved boating safety course.
If you are uncomfortable operating the boat or completing a boating safety course, you may want to consider renting a vessel that comes with a captain. Inexperience on the water is a contributing factor to many boating accidents.
Have a Proper Lookout
When operating a vessel, you should have someone designated as a lookout. According to a report by WJXT News4Jax, over 44% of collisions were caused by operator inattention or failure to maintain a proper lookout. A lookout can watch for swimmers, buoys, low-lying bridges, and other potential hazards.
Check the Number of Life Jackets
The FWC and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) require that all vessels be equipped with a wearable USCG-approved personal flotation device for each person. The personal flotation device must be the right size for the intended wearer. While it is not required for adults to wear life jackets while onboard, it is strongly recommended.
Have a Boat Safety Kit
Check the rental vessel for a boat safety kit. A safety kit may prove critical if you become stranded on the water or a passenger is injured in a boating accident.
Your safety kit should include the following:
- Emergency radio
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and flares
- Visual distress signals or flags
- Fire extinguishers
Ask the rental company to show you the safety equipment on the vessel and be sure that you are familiar with each piece.
Pay Attention to the Weather
On the water, the weather can change quickly. A storm can approach within a matter of minutes, changing calm conditions into dangerous seas. If you see dark clouds on the horizon, you need to get back to shore.
Check the water temperature, surf conditions, and the forecast often before your rental time. Once you arrive at check-in, ask the attendant about weather predictions for the time that you will be out on the water.
Make a Float Plan
Any time you go boating, you need to create a float plan. A float plan should be left with a reliable person on shore in case of emergency. If there is an accident or you do not return the vessel, the float plan can be used to identify who might be missing.
A float plan generally includes:
- Information about the vessel;
- A list of safety equipment aboard the boat;
- Persons onboard;
- Contact information;
- Itinerary; and
- A boating emergency guide.
The livery may have a float plan for you to file, or you may need to print one ahead of your trip. Double-check before your planned rental time whether you need to bring a copy of your own.
Never Boat Under the Influence
Finally, never operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. If you have passengers onboard, their safety should be your top priority.
Alcohol use is one of the primary causes of boating fatalities in the state. If you plan to drink, do not drive. Boating under the influence is a serious offense that has both civil and criminal consequences.
Injured in a Rental Boat Accident? Contact Our Office!
Were you injured in a rental boat accident in Miami? Contact our office at (844) 627-3529 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help determine whether you are eligible for compensation and who should be held liable.