Outdoor Education and National Safe Boating Week
One year old. That’s how old my daughter was the first time we took her to the Florida Keys with us to go lobstering on our 20-foot Proline Center Console. While she was too little to help us catch anything, it was the start of her love for boating. My son’s experience was similar.
It was easy to fall in love with being out on the water. In fact, I think I could say that both of my kids spent half of their time in high school on the water as both were on the crew team. My daughter continued this in college. Today, as an adult, she and her husband just bought their first boat, a 21-foot Dual Console Chaparral! (Looks like boating will be a family tradition for her growing family, too!)
While we shared their love for being out on the water, their father and I often worried about safety. We tried to teach them to be careful as well as what to do in case of an emergency (in fact, just yesterday, my husband sent the whole family an email with a link to the 2015 Boating Accident Statistical Report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). We have been fortunate so far, but accidents happen every day.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show Florida repeatedly leads the nation in boating accidents and boating fatalities.
The 2015 Boating Accident Statistical Report showed that:
- Florida had 103 MORE accidents in 2015 than in 2014, with a total of 737.
- 55 people lost their lives last year in boating accidents.
- Since 2003, the leading type of fatal accident has been falling overboard.
- Drowning is the leading cause of death.
This week is National Safe Boating Week and it has me thinking about the FLVS Outdoor Education course.
The course aims to provide students with skills and knowledge about outdoor activities, such as boating. Students can even earn a Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card by successfully completing the boating coursework – something I wish would have been available to my children in high school (and it’s FREE to students who are Florida residents!).
I reached out to FLVS Outdoor Education teacher, Jerad Black, for a few tips to share that will help keep boaters safe. Here is what he had to say:
Know your personal flotation device (PFD) requirements.
All vessels must contain one wearable Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person aboard. They must be readily accessible and best if worn while the boat is underway. You never know what circumstances can lead to a dangerous situation. The leading cause of death for fatal boating accidents is drowning.
Legal drinking age and legal penalties still apply while boating.
For those old enough to consume alcohol, boating while intoxicated is against the law. One drink on board a vessel is like three on shore. Drug and alcohol use plays a role in many of these fatalities. So don’t drink while boating.
If I could give one piece of advice to families like mine who are out on the water, it would be to encourage your children to take advantage of our Outdoor Education course.
It could save a life!
Post by Holly Sagues, Former Executive Director of Governmental Affairs & Strategic Solutions