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Life Jackets And Safety Course Could Prevent South Florida Boating Accidents

Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County and Broward County rank 2, 3 and 4 respectively in the number of Florida boating accidents that happened last year. Eleven people were killed and another 91 were injured on the water in South Florida.

The majority of those involved in fatal boating accidents (76 percent) were not wearing life jackets. Florida requires that there be enough life jackets on board for each person in a boat, but only children age six and under are required to wear life preservers.

"Older children and adults are encouraged to wear them though, as they could find themselves in the water unexpectedly and may need it," noted Katie Purcell, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Even boaters that are good swimmers could be saved by wearing a life jacket."

Another safety precaution available to boaters is a watercraft safety course. The boater safety course is mandatory for anyone born after January 1, 1988, but anyone on the water could benefit from it. Just over half of the operators involved in a boating accident had not taken the safety course.

Although the course may seem too basic for more experienced boaters, statistics note that middle-aged operators are the most likely to get into a boating accident. Despite their experience, these operators may have never focused on simple, basic water safety issues.

Across Florida, there were over 700 boating accidents in 2011, almost 100 more than occurred in 2010. Monroe County had the highest number of boating accidents in Florida in 2011.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "South Florida boating accidents kill 11, injure 91 in 2011," David Fleshler, July 9, 2012

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