Tips for Boaters this Weekend | Sports & Recreation

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Tips for Boaters this Weekend

As boaters take to the waterways this Independence Day weekend, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) boating experts have some tips to help keep people safe.

  • Be weather wise. Know the weather before you begin your outing.
  • Make sure your boat and motor are sound and in good working condition.
  • Check all safety equipment, including U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, fire extinguishers, sound-producing devices and visual distress signals and ensure they are readily accessible.
  • Florida law requires children under 6 years old, and all people using personal watercraft or water skis, to wear life jackets.
  • FWC boating safety experts say all boaters should wear life jackets and should consider purchasing the new U.S. Coast Guard-approved inflatable life jacket.
  • File a float plan. Tell a responsible person from where and when you are leaving, where you are going and your estimated time of return.
  • Carry a cellular phone, and be sure your VHF radio is working properly.
  • Don't overload your boat with people or equipment.
  • Everyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, is required to pass a Commission-approved boater education course to operate most boats.  The FWC encourages all boaters to take a safe-boating course. Information on course availability is at
  • Alcohol and drug use are major contributors to boating fatalities. Also, impaired boaters come off the water and often become impaired drivers, further endangering public safety. Don’t drink or take drugs and operate a boat or vehicle.
  • It is against the law to be impaired while operating a vessel. The FWC encourages people to report impaired or suspected impaired boaters to the FWC’s toll-free Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Callers may stay anonymous and are eligible for a reward if their information leads to an arrest. But more importantly, reporting impaired boaters may save lives.
  • Operators should pay attention, stay alert, mind passengers, and be responsible for their vessel’s wake.  

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