Memorial Day Weekend Boating
BRANSFORD - According to the United States Coast Guard. In 2011 almost 700 accidents and more than 60 deaths were related to boating here in Florida. The number of people out in the water spikes on a weekend like this one, making safety that much more important.
Parts of the Suwannee and Santa Fe River were filled with people in their boats enjoying not only Memorial Day weekend but the sunny weather. Brooke Stapleton who came out with family and friends said, "We're hanging out with our family and friends today, enjoying this beautiful day on the river, celebrating memorial day weekend. Babies love it, we love it, it's a good time!"
Officer Rodney Boon with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sayid this holiday is their busiest time out in the river, so he advises boaters to be attentive. Boon said, "You can be safe by not getting tunnel vision. Paying attention to what's going on around... Not just on their boat, what other people are doing."
When you're out on a boat, it's a good idea to have your life vest on at all times. However it's not mandatory unless you're under the age of six.
Derek Hasseb who brought his family out on his boat said, "The kids have got to be in life jackets and then you've got to make sure you have enough for everybody else, cause you don't want to be stuck without it."
Life jackets aren't the only thing you have to worry about though. Lt. Jeff Swan with FWC said, "You have to have a fire extinguisher. A whistle or a horn. If your boat is 16 feet or longer you have to have a throw-able device, a square cushion or a throw ring. You also have to have your boat currently registered and have your registration on board."
While we were out for a ride, FWC made a few stops to make sure boaters were following the rules. They gave out a warning for speeding. This is why they advise boaters to watch out for signs.
Boon added, "And that's our job out here today, to make sure you have a good time but you're safe while doing it."
And remember in the state of Florida, its legal to operate a vessel and consume alcohol. As long as you're doing it safely. However it is a violation of Florida law to operate a vessel while impaired.
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