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Winter boating accidents a common danger in South Florida

Winter does nothing to lessen the chances of a boating accident in Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie or elsewhere in South Florida. In fact, warm weather, the lack or storms and the influx of tourists and winter residents, mean the risks remain substantial through the winter months.

Our West Palm Beach injury lawyers remind tourists and residents alike to practice safe boating habits, which can drastically reduce your chances of being involved in a boating accident. In fact, the Sun-Sentinel recently reported that 90 percent of those involved in a Florida boating accident never took a boating safety course. And the leading cause of death — drowning — could be averted in most cases by simply wearing a life vest.

With just under 1 million registered vessels, Florida is the boating capital of the United States. A total of 620 boating accidents were reported in 2009. California was the only other state to report more than 500 accidents. Sixty-five boaters were killed and more than 420 were seriously injured.

The most boating accidents were reported in Monroe County/Florida Keys (77), followed by Miami-Dade (62), Palm Beach (56), Pinellas (34) and Broward (30).

Safety tips from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission include:

-Use a designated operator and don’t drink and boat.

-A plastic whistle attached to a life vest can save your life.

-All boat operators, regardless of age, should take a boater safety course.

-File a float plan with friends or family. A float plan says where you are going and when you expect to return. If you are overdue, a float plan can give authorities some idea of where to start looking.

-Never stand in a canoe.

-Make sure life jackets are readily accessible.

-Stay with the boat in the event that it capsizes. You will be easier to find. Do not try to swim to shore.

-Remember that boats do not have brakes or rearview mirrors.

-You cannot have too much safety equipment.

Freeman & Mallard is a personal injury and wrongful death law firm representing clients throughout Southeast Florida, including Hollywood, Margate and Coral Gables. Call today for a free consultation. 1-800-529-2368.

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