Safe Boating Tips
The State of Florida ranks third in the nation for the number of registered pleasure craft, and first for the number of number of boating accidents. DCSO offers these tips to help you stay safe and avoid trouble afloat:

Complete a boating education course. One of the primary factors contributing to vessel accidents is operator inexperience.

Get your boat checked for safety's sake. The Vessel Safety Check (VCS) is a free public service offered by Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket and make sure all your passengers wear one too.

Avoid alcoholic beverages while boating. More than one-third of all boating deaths resulting from collisions involved alcohol use.

Be aware of weather conditions before heading out on the water and know what to do if the weather suddenly changes.

Have a working marine radio on board at all times and know how to use it.

Pack extra gear you may need. A flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and drinking water are a few items that should be packed in a watertight container that floats.

Tell someone where you are going, who is with you, and how long you plan to be out. Then stick to your travel plans.

Ventilate after fueling. Open hatches, run the blower, and check for fuel fumes before starting the engine.

Know your boat's capacity and how to properly load it. An overloaded or improperly loaded boat can cause safety problems.

All children under the age of 6, in a vessel under 26 feet, must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway in Florida waters, and up to 3 miles from shore.