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Florida Boat Accidents – Use A Life Jacket!

February 20, 2009

If you’ve ever been around boats (or if you have taken a cruise), you know how bulky and decidedly unstylish those huge orange life jackets can be! Let’s face it, no one wants to wear one – think of the weird tan lines you’d get, not to mention that you’d look pretty dorky sitting out on the deck in a bikini and a bright orange vest. So, don’t worry about it, right? Just lay back and catch those rays… except, it has been estimated by the U. S. Coast Guard that over 80 % of boating fatalities could have been saved if the victims had been wearing a life jacket. And, since no one plans to get into Florida boat accidents, guess you’d better rethink that life jacket…

The good news about life jackets is that they aren’t necessarily those huge orange monstrosities anymore. In fact, they can be downright fashionable while they help you stay safe if you’re involved in boat accidents in Florida or in any other waters. The Coast Guard has given it’s approval to life jackets that now come in many styles and a wide range of colors. If you are concerned about tan lines, get a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) that you wear like a back-pack. It inflates the second you hit the water, but it is unobtrusive until you go overboard. Hunters can get a camouflage-color jacket and life jackets for paddlers allow for easier arm movement. Float coats will keep you from sinking and help you avoid hypothermia in colder weather. The main thing is to be sure that the PFD you are purchasing is U.S. Coast Guard approved by checking the PFD for a label that designates it’s approval.

Because Florida boat accidents can happen at any time and your craft could be operating at any speed (for example, you could be trolling along and get clobbered by the other guy), you and your passengers should always have their life jacket on. If you’ve ever experienced a car accident, you know they happen in a split second and your passengers may not be able to get their hands on a life jacket or put it on in time to keep from drowning if they go overboard in an accident. And, they’d almost certainly become a fatality if they were knocked unconscious in a collision and weren’t wearing a PFD.

The U.S. Coast Guard site on Boating Safety has a list of Things to Know about life jackets. They say:

  • Certain life jackets are designed to keep your head above water and help you remain in a position which permits proper breathing.
  • To meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and over must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well.
  • All states have regulations regarding life jacket wear by children.
  • Adult-sized life jackets will not work for children. Special life jackets are available. To work correctly, a life jacket must be worn, fit snugly, and not allow the child’s chin or ears to slip through.
  • Life jackets should be tested for wear and buoyancy at least once each year. Waterlogged, faded, or leaky jackets should be discarded.
  • Life jackets must be properly stowed.
  • A life jacket — especially a snug-fitting flotation coat or deck-suit style — can help you survive in cold water.

So, be sure that you and everyone on your vessel are buckled up in a life jacket when you push off from the dock. It’s as important on a boat as it is on the interstate!

For more information about boat accidents in Florida, contact Florida boating accident lawyer Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or email him today.

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