Tips to stay safe on the water this summer

All citizens who wish to legally operate a motor vehicle on the road must possess a valid driver's license or learner's permit. However, the same cannot be said about citizens on the water.
Although Florida law now requires boat-operators born after January 1, 1988, to complete an approved boater education course and receive a "Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card," there are exceptions.
This means responsible vessel operators should arm themselves with boating knowledge and rules of the water, as well as remain alert for the many other boaters who don't. 
To help prepare citizens and encourage safe, responsible boating, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has compiled a list of important boating safety tips:
  • Complete a safe boating course: Driving a car and operating a boat require different skill sets and knowledge about entirely different rules and regulations. Enrolling in an in-person or online boaters' safety course is a great way to learn the rules of the water and familiarize yourself with basic boating principles. Visit the National Safe Boating Council website for links to several approved online courses.
  • Know your boat: Before you set sail, get familiar with the vessel you are operating and the area you are navigating, including water depth, tides, weather, slow or idle speed requirements, and swim exclusion and restricted zones.
  • Get in the zone: Manatee Protection Zones are back in effect through October 31st. Vessel operators should pay close attention to all signs throughout the Intracoastal, specifically looking for zones that have not only been implemented within the last year but also extended to provide extra protection for manatees. Marine Unit deputies will be regularly monitoring and enforcing these zones. Note: Rules and restrictions are constantly changing, so it is important to stay up-to-date, even if you are a seasoned boater.
  • Get equipped: Florida law requires that one personal flotation device (PFD), or "lifejacket," per passenger be readily accessible on the vessel at all times, and children under age 6 must wear PFDs while underway. PFDs aren't the only required boating gear. Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website for a list of other mandatory items based on what type of boat you have.
  • Scan constantly: There are no stop signs or traffic lights on the water, so you MUST constantly scan the water for other boaters, swimmers, water skiers, or stumps and other landmarks jutting up from the water that could severely damage your boat or harm you and others. 
  • File a "float plan": Share your trip details - where you're going, when you plan to return, passengers' names, and boat information - with a responsible person before you launch, in case you lose contact in an emergency. Make sure to contact that person when you return safely.
  • Don't boat under the influence: Remember, operating any vehicle - including a boat - while impaired by drugs or alcohol is illegal and can end in a lot worse than a citation. Just as you would before a night out on the town, designate a sober driver for days on the water.
For more boating safety tips, visit the FWC, National Safe Boating Council, and BoatUS Foundation websites. 
And, of course, don't forget the sunscreen!


Thursday, May 3, 2018 10:38:00 AM

Non Emergency Line: (727) 582-6200 | In an Emergency call 911ADA info