Florida sunshine, balmy breezes and time with friends and family; what could be more fun and enjoyable than that? Boating is a stress-free and relaxing activity and a great way to spend your recreational time. Unlike powerboats, renting a pontoon boat offers the convenience of walking space, comfortable lounges and couches and plenty of room for the whole family. Safe, stable and reliable, a pontoon boat can offer hours of tranquil cruising and the ability to fish or swim off the boat as you enjoy the wonderful Florida weather. But safe boating practices should be everyone’s priority. Below are some helpful links to sites that provide information to keep your day on the water safe and enjoyable.
BOATING SAFETY BEST PRACTICES: Boating safety should be your first priority on the water. This site, sponsored by Take Me Fishing offers an easy-to-use 10 item checklist to be sure you’re ready for a day boating.
PRE-BOATING CHECKLIST: This site, sponsored by Discover Boating, provides an easy to use checklist including information on: personal floatation devices, safety equipment on the boat, and required paperwork. Easily printable, the list will help to ensure you have everything you need for a safe and fun boating experience.
US COAST GUARD BOATING SAFETY: A comprehensive site offering clickable, easy-to-navigate videos produced by the Sport Fishing Restoration Trust Fund that include topics on: emergency procedures; navigation rules and protocol; common sense seamanship; drinking and boating; courteous boating practices and safety gear to name a few topics.
LIFE VEST BASICS: Every person on the boat should be equipped with the correct personal floatation device (PFD), also known as a life vest. All boats over 16 feet should also be equipped with throwable floatation devices for water rescue. This site, sponsored by About Sports, describes materials used in pfds and their appropriate uses, including the advantages and disadvantages of each type of life vest.
PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES (PFDs): The US Coast Guard is responsible for keeping waterways safe for all boaters. This site offers information on pfd requirements as well as information on size, weight and buoyancy requirements for adult and child pfds.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on Boater Safety for the State of Florida: This site, sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife, offers helpful information in list format with clickable links to answers on: licensing requirements, renting a boat as a resident from another state, and boating safety ID cards.
MARINE WEATHER FORECASTING: Staying safe on the water means knowing the weather forecast and tide changes. Inclement or dangerous weather can turn a day of boating fun into a risky adventure. This National Weather Service Site offers region- and state-specific weather forecast so you’re not caught unprepared.
NAVIGATIONAL BUOYS AND CHANNEL MARKERS: Markers and buoys on the water signal boating patterns, warn of hidden dangers or controlled areas and assist in giving directions and information. This site provides pictures and explanations of the US Aids to Navigation System (ATON), as well as informational videos to help boaters better understand bouys.
WRITING A FLOAT PLAN: Every excursion on the water should include a float plan that is left with a person on land. A float plan includes information on how many people are on the boat as well as a boating itinerary of where you’re boating and when you expect to return. Commander Bob’s site (navigation bar on the left) includes an easy-to-print float plan with explanations and drop down fields using the latest information from the US Coast Guard. Your completed float plan can be printed or emailed for your convenience.
BOATING WITH SMALL CHILDREN AND PETS
Boating is more enjoyable when the whole family can be part of the fun. Being prepared with the right equipment for the youngest as well as the four-footed family members will ensure a day of safe, comfortable boating.
PARENTING TIPS FOR BOATING WITH CHILDREN: This site offers a short video narrated by a parent on sizing children for life vests, making them comfortable with wearing a life vest before you go and some general safety rules for boating with children.
CHILDREN’S PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICES: This site, sponsored by About Health, gives tips on how to find the correct life vest for your child or infant, including information on correct fit, grab handles and head supports.
BOATING SAFELY WITH CHILDREN: This site, sponsored by Safe Kids Worldwide, offers several helpful tips on keeping children safe while enjoying the joys of boating. It also includes information on properly fitting your child with a personal floatation device and helpful tips on childproofing your boat and avoiding hypothermia.
KIDS LEARN BOAT SAFETY: Run by the National Safe Boating Council, this fun, interactive site offers age-appropriate games and clickable links that engage children while teaching them boat safety. There is also state-specific information to teach children about boats and boat safety.
KIDS MATCHING BOUY GAME: Even your children can learn to recognize safety bouys and channel markers. This fun, interactive matching card game shows several of the common markers with their meanings. The game is easily reset and can be played multiple times.
SAFETY PRACTICES FOR BOATING WITH PETS: Discover Boating has provided a simple-to-follow checklist to be sure you have everything you need for your pet to enjoy a day on the water. There is also information on this site to help you fit your dog with a proper pfd.
PET SAFETY ON THE WATER: Sponsored by Trips with Pets, this site has a checklist of safety guidelines to help you keep your pet safe on the water including information on hydration, pet identification and tips on fitting your pet with the proper pfd.