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National Safe Boating Week is May 20-26. With the more than 550 lakes in Polk County, it is the perfect time to remind everyone about the importance of boating safely.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, four out of every five recreational boating fatalities was caused by drowning, and more than 80% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Here are a few safety tips to consider while boating:
• Take a Boating Safety Course (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers one that can be found here: MyFWC.com/Boating)
• Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times – and consider a life jacket for any pets on the boat
• Attach a whistle to your life vest to alert rescuers in the event of an emergency
• Never boat under the influence
• Learn CPR
• Use an engine cut-off device
• Watch the weather
• Make a float plan with your trip itinerary – and make sure someone on shore has a copy of the plan
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times
“Lots of people will take advantage of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend to enjoy a day on the water. And while everyone has different opinions of what a perfect day on the water looks like, everyone wants to end the day uninjured and alive. That’s why it is important that everyone in the boat wears a life jacket and practice safe boating skills. My deputies will be on the water as well this weekend, ensuring people are enjoying the holiday safely.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff