How to stay safe while boating over the Fourth of July weekend

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, is reminding boaters of the importance of boater safety equipment and the dangers of operating a boat while under the influence.

"This could be deadly," Officer Forest Rothchild said. "This is reality, water is a hostile environment, but we want to make sure people are safe and have a good time." 

Rothchild said the key things to know 

  1. Where your safety equipment is located such as appropriate fitting life jackets
  2. A fire extinguisher
  3. A sound producing device such as a whistle
  4. Visual distress signals
  5. A throwable floatation device incase someone falls overboard

Make sure you have a designated boat driver and to let people know where you plan to be in case anything happens.

According to FWC, 20% of boating fatalities in 2021 were alcohol or drug related. Two fatalities and 53 people were injured due to BUI related accidents in July 2021 alone. 

To maintain safety, both the FWC and PCSO will have almost every employee on the water in case of an emergency and to make sure all boating safety regulations are being met. 

"We realize people are going to be celebrating, but be safe," Rothchild said.