In Miami, we’re lucky to have beautiful boating weather year-round. Of course, this means that the potential for boating accidents is greater because boaters simply have more time to be on the water. Because a fun boat outing can quickly turn tragic, we’ve come up with some tips that can help you and your family stay safe this holiday boating season.
Although accidents can happen at any moment, even when a boater is abiding by proper maritime laws, there are many ways to prevent tragedies in open waters. Making sure that your boat has adequate life jackets and emergency equipment on board such as a first-aid kit, a pocketknife, flashlight, mirror, flares, and sunscreen can make a huge difference if you run into trouble on South Florida waterways.
It’s also always a good idea to carry emergency rations of food and water to keep you and your loved ones safe should you become stranded or find yourself in an emergency situation. For each person you plan to have on board your boat, you should carry a few extra gallons of water. For every day lost at sea, individuals will need at least one gallon of water per day, assuming no dehydration or excessively hot weather occurs. If the weather is warmer, you should carry more water. Boaters should also carry a bailer or manual water pump. Should the boat become flooded, these devices can be life-savers.
If you’re planning a trip on the ocean, make sure to take the time to plan your route carefully and to check the weather. Weather conditions can change rapidly and it’s always a good idea to double-check the report before you head out. Having a pre-departure checklist on-board can also help.
A good checklist should contain the following items:
- Check the weather report for potentially hazardous conditions.
- Check maps and mark any potential hazards on your route.
- Learn about seasonal weather patterns. In Florida, summer afternoon thunderstorms can be common.
- Discuss your route with other experienced boaters to learn more about the area and any potential hazards you may encounter.
- Tell someone your trip plan, departure time, and return time and make sure that this individual will contact authorities if he or she does not hear from you at a designated time.
- Inspect your motor and the vessel.
- Discuss each passenger’s responsibilities before you begin your trip.
- Show all passengers the location of safety equipment and first-aid kits.
- Ensure that all safety equipment and first-aid kits are complete and in working order.
- Make sure you have enough flotation devices available for all passengers on board.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip.
- Confirm your cell phone is charged and working or that your radio is functioning, so that you can communicate with help should you find yourself in trouble.
- Make sure that everyone is dressed for the weather and that there is sufficient food and water on board.
Following a pre-trip checklist, maintaining your equipment in good working order, and educating yourself about boater safety and potential hazards can go a long way to ensuring a safe and fun trip for you and your loved ones enjoy your boating outing in Miami.