Officers will be vigilant during Gasparilla
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Media contact: Officer Jorge Pino, 561-723-1417; Gary Morse, 863-648-3200
More than 60 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) officers will team up with crews from the U.S.
Coast Guard, the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County
Sheriff's Office to keep local waterways safe during the upcoming
Gasparilla celebration in downtown Tampa Jan. 29-30. Officers will
provide educational information to boaters, conduct on-the-water
safety inspections and target boaters operating under the influence
of alcohol or drugs.
Boating safety is a core responsibility for the
FWC's Division of Law Enforcement. One look at the agency's large
database on boating accidents makes the case that human error, and
not equipment failure, causes the vast majority of boating
"Boating is a privilege many Tampa Bay area
families enjoy, but it carries with it a serious responsibility to
be safe," said FWC Capt. Roger Young. "Carelessness, inattention
and violating a navigation rule are the primary causes of boating
To avoid problems created by careless operation and
inattention, the FWC and Coast Guard recommend boaters adhere to
the following safety practices:
- Operate at a safe speed for the conditions present.
- Maintain a proper lookout by constantly looking around the
- Always wear a properly sized life jacket or personal floatation
device, and have one for each person aboard.
- Never overload a vessel.
- Occupants should never move rapidly in a vessel and should
secure their gear to prevent capsizing.
- Always use a designated operator who has not been consuming
alcohol or other drugs, which can impair judgment or reaction
- Comply with all Coast Guard requirements for safety
- Ensure navigational lights are operational before leaving the
- Avoid "blinding" other boat operators by improperly using
- Extinguish decorative lights after dark when going to and from
the parade area.
"Turning off nonessential lighting helps preserve
night vision, important for operating a boat safely after dark,"
"Typically during Gasparilla there are a large
number of boats within a confined space. To promote safety on
the water, the Coast Guard recommends that only experienced boaters
participate in the parade," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Brian
Boaters are encouraged to file a float plan with a
friend or family member, and to have a working VHF radio and EPIRB
(emergency position-indicating radio beacon) on board. Each
passenger should be told what to do in case an emergency arises,
including how to use a VHF radio, and be shown the location of
life-saving equipment and first-aid supplies.
"Understanding and applying these rules and making
sure your boat is well-equipped and properly maintained will help
ensure you and your family enjoy the Gasparilla holiday," Murphy
More information on boating safety and the free
Boat Smart safety course is available at MyFWC.com/Boating.