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Holiday advice for boaters: Keep an eye on the weather

News Release

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426

Here's a tip for boaters this Fourth of July weekend from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) boating experts: Keep an eye on the weather. The afternoon thunderstorm pattern has returned to most of Central Florida, and boaters need to take that into account when planning their boating trip.

Perfect conditions or not, many boaters will take to the waters of Central Florida this holiday weekend, and FWC law enforcement officers urge them to pay close attention to weather reports and approaching storms. These storms can pop up quickly anytime and anywhere, without much notice, and they can be very violent.

Here are a few important things to remember:

  • Monitor your VHF radio weather channels for updates.
  • If you're on the water, head to shore at the first sign of an approaching storm.
  • If you or your passengers are not already wearing life jackets, put them on as soon as you see a storm approaching. You may not be able to outrun the storm, and once it hits, it might be too late.
  • Avoid boating in thunderstorms or other nasty weather. Visibility is reduced, making it difficult to see other boats, channel markers and other fixed or floating objects.
  • If you must be out in bad weather, be sure your navigational lights are on. At night, besides that, be sure unnecessary lights are off (which promotes better night vision), and use a spotlight so you can see and be seen.
  • Although most people fear the lightning produced by summer thunderstorms, and rightly so, the wind and torrential rain are far more likely to cause a boater serious problems, like swamping and instability.

There are nearly 1 million registered boats in Florida, and it is likely many of them will be under way celebrating Independence Day. If you are one of them, boating officials want you to have a fun and safe trip.

Remember, safe boating is no accident.

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