Coast Guard urges mariners in the Florida Keys to be safe this New Year

KEY WEST, Fla. – The Coast Guard would like to encourage holiday boaters to have fun and be safe by boating responsibly during their New Year’s celebrations.

Seasonal and expected weather could create rough sea conditions and unpredictable hazards on the water. On-water viewing of fireworks displays can cause night-time boating traffic and congestion near some marinas and in Key West harbor. Boaters should take extra precaution and prepare accordingly.

More than 700 people die every year in America as a result of recreational boating accidents. Many more were injured and millions of dollars worth of property was lost in accidents that probably could have been prevented with the proper training and equipment.

Boaters are reminded to not drink and boat and to leave the firework displays to the professionals. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

Other key potentially life saving tips that boaters can utilize over the holiday include:

  • Always wear a lifejacket. Approximately 90 percent of people who drowned in boating accidents were not wearing a lifejacket.
  • Take a boating safety course. Approximately 70 percent of all fatal accidents occurred on a vessel with an operator that had no formal boating safety instruction.
  • Get a vessel safety inspection. Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters take advantage of the free vessel safety check program yearly.
  • File a float plan. A float plan is simply letting a reliable loved one or friend on land know where you are going, when you are going to be back, and what kind of vessel you have. That person can call the Coast Guard if you don’t return on time and save critical minutes during a search.

Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be actively patrolling the waters of the Florida Keys throughout the New Year’s holiday.

The Coast Guard remains vigilant to persons in distress. To report distress on the water contact the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 or dial 305-295-9700 directly.

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