Increased fatalities prompt FWC to reach out to boaters
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
With just a few weeks remaining in the year, 2010
has proved to be a tragic one for boating accidents. So far, there
have been 76 boating fatalities, a 24-percent increase from this
time last year. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) wants Florida boaters to reverse this trend.
"The most unfortunate part about these statistics
is boating fatalities are usually preventable," said Capt. Tom
Shipp of the FWC's Boating and Waterways Section.
While the FWC patrols Florida's waterways and
strongly promotes boating safety year-round, this year's higher
number of fatalities prompted an increased emphasis on prevention.
At least 41 of the 76 deaths were due to drowning, and the FWC has
some advice about that.
"One of the best ways to prevent a drowning is
simply to wear a life jacket," Shipp said. "Boaters don't always
expect to find themselves in the water, but if they do, a life
jacket can save a life."
There is a variety of life jackets available to
boaters. New styles are much smaller, lighter and more comfortable
to wear than the traditional vest-style life jacket.
"The 'belt pack' is worn around the waist. A
'suspender' style is also available," said Brian Rehwinkel,
outreach coordinator for the FWC's Boating and Waterways Section.
"These types of life jackets are inflatable, and some models
activate automatically if the wearer falls into the water."
While a few unusual accidents have occurred this
year, the majority are similar to those of recent years. They
involve boaters failing to pay attention to their surroundings,
neglecting to wear life jackets and operating at high speeds.
"We strongly urge boaters to follow safe boating
practices," Shipp said. "Pay attention to the weather and your
surroundings, make sure your boat and motor are in good working
condition, check all safety equipment before embarking, and don't
drink and operate a boat."
The FWC also encourages boaters of any age to take
a boating safety course. To find a course or more boating safety
information, visit MyFWC.com/Boating or call 850-488-5600.