Are you struggling to pick out the right gift for the boater in your life? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an idea for that last-minute present under the tree: boating safety equipment. It may be the best gift you ever give – the gift of life! Every year around the holidays, fatal boating accidents occur. Many of these are preventable.
An inflatable life jacket is probably the best gift any boater could hope for during the holidays. Add either an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon or a Personal Locator Beacon under the tree and you’ll be assured the boater in your life will be safer on the water.
The FWC recommends boaters wear life jackets all of the time while on the water, and the use of an inflatable life jacket makes it easy to comfortably wear one every time you go boating. There are two types of inflatables: ones that inflate automatically when a person falls into the water, and others that inflate after the wearer pulls a cord.
“A lot of people say they don’t wear life jackets because they feel they’re uncomfortable,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of the FWC. “However, with the inflatable models, you hardly know you have one on. A life jacket that will be worn all of the time makes a great gift.”
An Emergency Locator Beacon will make a big difference if a serious problem occurs on the water. These devices send a signal via satellite to search-and-rescue agencies so rescuers do not waste time and effort trying to locate the boaters in need; they can go directly to the beacon to provide assistance.
“People don’t expect to fall overboard or that their boat will break down or sink, but it can and does happen,” said Shipp. “New technology in the form of an inflatable life jacket or an emergency beacon will improve their chances of survival and give peace of mind to family and friends.”
As the weather and water cools off, it may seem that people are not boating as much around Florida. However, due to holidays, family vacations, and water-related hunting activities, there are still plenty of boaters out and about throughout the state. This is not the time to drop your guard while on the water. People should always wear a life jacket and keep up the safe boating. Happy holidays from the FWC!