University of Florida

Boat Smart

Stay Safe on the Water

The main cause of boating accidents and fatalities in Florida is falling overboard and drowning. Many of these incidents can be prevented by wearing life jackets.

Life jackets aren't the only solution for boating safety, however. Another important thing you can do to prevent boating accidents is take a boating safety course. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a course and lists online course sources. The U.S. Power Squadron and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also offer boating safety courses and vessel safety inspections.

People who are 21 and younger are required to have a Florida Boater Education ID card when operating a vessel with ten or more horsepower. Children under 14 may not operate Personal Watercraft (PWC).

You should also follow these tips for safer boating:

  • Use common sense and courtesy.
  • Know and obey boat-related laws.
  • Obey posted signs.
  • Wear a life jacket. Every child under six must wear one while a vessel is underway.
  • Carefully handle gasoline. Keep fuel lines tight and refuel at docks or when beached.
  • Do not operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Stay alert. Watch for swimmers, divers, and other boats. Be aware of your wake around smaller watercraft and anglers.
  • Pay attention to the weather.
  • Know your vessel and the waterways where you are boating.
  • Tell someone where you are going, who you are going with, and how long you will be gone.
  • Approach other boats and launch your boat carefully.
  • Do not litter.
  • Stay dry and warm.
  • Respect plant and animal life.
  • Keep hunting and fishing gear clean and well packed.
  • Anchor from the bow, not the stern.
Adapted and excerpted from:

C. Verlinde, “Boating Safety,” UF/IFAS Santa Rosa Extension (3/2006).

“Recreational Boating,” Plant Management in Florida Waters (2004).


Related Sites & Articles

Popular Stories