Don’t Let a Boating Ejection Ruin Your Holiday Trip

TAMPA, Fla. – The Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and other local law-enforcement agencies urge boaters to use caution on the water and boat safely and responsibly.

“First and foremost, always wear your lifejacket. Lifejackets save lives, period. Pay attention to your speed and the sea conditions, and properly connect the kill switch that shuts off the engine if you are thrown from your boat,” said Lt. Jason Franz, Coast Guard spokesman.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend there were several boating incidents where people were ejected from their vessels, resulting in a death and several injuries. Although these accidents are still under investigation, it appears that the vessels may not have been operated in a manner or at a speed appropriate to the weather and water conditions.

According to the Coast Guard’s national statistics, a reported 485 people were ejected from their boats in 2006, resulting in 202 deaths and 306 injuries. The Coast Guard recommends that boaters use caution while underway, pay attention to weather and sea conditions, heed safety and speed zones, file a float plan, and always wear a lifejacket.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit recommends that vessel owners know the capabilities of their own vessel and that when operating on the waterways are familiar with the conditions of the environment that they are operating in. In addition, operators must be in command and control of their vessel at all times as they are not only responsible for their own safety, but the safety of all occupants.

According to FWC, falling overboard was the number one cause of the 69 boating fatalities reported statewide in 2006.

“With an ever-increasing number of boating-related drownings, we continue to encourage boaters not to get complacent about wearing a life jacket. It’s the best insurance policy against the dangerous and unpredictable nature of life on the water,” said Gary Morse, FWC spokesman.

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