Increase in boating fatalities concerns FWC
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
Many Florida boaters know the importance of wearing
a life jacket and abiding by the navigation rules. However, the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) emphasizes
the importance of making safe, smart decisions when out of the boat
"When people enter the water, they put themselves
at risk," said Capt. Carol Keyser of the FWC's Boating and
Waterways Section. "Swimming, diving, tubing and other activities
in the water can be fun, but need to be done safely."
FWC statistics show the current number of boating
accidents this year is 50, up four from this time last year. And, a
recent alarming trend is reflected in those statistics.
"In the past three months, there have been three
drownings that occurred when people jumped into the water off of
moving boats," Keyser said. "Jumping off a moving vessel and into
the water is not like jumping into a pool," she added. "There often
are dangers hidden under the surface of the water or the water may
be shallower or deeper than expected."
Boaters may overestimate their swimming abilities
and may find it difficult to get back onboard a vessel from the
water. Another danger comes when they attempt to swim or dive in
"Boaters should know their surroundings before
getting in the water," Keyser said. "They should exit the boat
slowly and make sure there are no dangerous objects or boats
Alcohol use, which is always a concern for law
enforcement, is suspected to have played a role in several of the
"Operating a vessel or engaging in other waterborne
activities while drinking is just not a smart idea," Keyser
"There is such a variety of water-related
activities available in Florida." Keyser said. "We want residents
and visitors to have fun, but we want them to make good decisions
while doing so."
For more information on boating safety, call Capt.
Carol Keyser at 850-488-5600, or go to MyFWC.com/Boating or www.wearitflorida.com.