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FWC and partner agencies remind vessel operators about boating safety leading up to Memorial Day weekend

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partner agencies want to remind residents and visitors to boat safely this Memorial Day weekend.

Today, the FWC, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Iona McGregor Fire District and the U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference in Fort Myers, Lee County, to share important boating safety information with the public.

“We talk about Memorial Day weekend being the start to boating season, but boating season in south Florida really is year-round,” said FWC Division of Law Enforcement Lt. Col. Alfredo Escanio. “We want to make sure that you come out and enjoy the waterways but do so safely.”

Boaters are urged to boat safely by taking a few minutes to make sure they have the necessary safety equipment on their vessels before leaving the boat ramp and to take extra safety precautions while out on the water. Below are a few simple safety tips that will help you stay safe on the water while you enjoy this busy boating holiday weekend.

  • Wear your life jacket - Personal flotation devices (or PFDs) now come in a variety of comfortable options tailored to every type of recreational activity on the water. In the event of a boating emergency, a life jacket is a very simple safety item that could save your life.
  • Designate a sober operator - Come up with a game plan before you leave the boat ramp to designate a sober operator so that you make it to your destination and back home safely. Boating under the influence never pays off and is one of the fastest ways to ruin your weekend. The FWC and partner agencies will be on the lookout for impaired operators and boating under the influence can lead to arrest.
  • Always maintain awareness - It’s crucial to always maintain 360-degree awareness while boating. Many boating accidents can be avoided by simply paying attention to other boaters and fixed objects around you.
  • File a float plan - This simple document can be filled out in a matter of minutes while you are preparing for your next outing. Your float plan can be left with someone you can depend on to notify the FWC or other rescue organization in case you do not return as scheduled and provides law enforcement with valuable information that could lead to your safe rescue in the event of an emergency. For a copy of the FWC float plan document, visit MyFWC.com/boating, click on “Boating Safety and Education” then “Float Plan.”

For more information about boating, including regulations and boating safety tips, please visit MyFWC.com/boating.