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Safe Boating Week starts today | Sports

With nearly one million registered watercraft Florida leads the nation in boating and while boating season is essentially year round the traditional start is marked by National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26.

Every year Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers respond to many tragic and preventable boating accidents so they encourage boaters to focus on taking simple and effective steps that make boating safer.

“Boating year-round is just one of the things that makes Florida special,” said Maj. Rob Rowe, leader of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “And even more people will be out on the water for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.”

“Our officers are committed to keeping people as safe as possible, but we need the public’s help,” Rowe said. “We want to reach as many boaters as we can, to help them understand that most boating accidents are preventable.”

Safety precautions for boaters include wearing a life jackets, having a sober person driving the boat, using an engine cut-off lanyard, paying attention to their surrounding, carrying  an emergency locator beacon, filing a float plan and taking a boating safety class.

An engine cut-off switch lanyard is a safety device that connects the  boat’s operator to the ignition. If it is disconnected, the engine will shut down, preventing a boater who has fallen overboard from being injured by a runaway boat.

The FWC’s boating accident report says there were 67 fatalities in 2016 out of 714 boating accidents

While this was a small decrease in accidents since 2015 it was a 22 percent increase in fatalities.

The leading cause of accidents in 2016 was the operator not paying attention.

People falling overboard has been the leading type of fatal accident since 2003.

Many of these could have been prevented by operators paying attention to…

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