KEEPING SAFE WHILE BOATING IN TAMPA
First – Check the Weather Forecast
If you enjoy boating, then safety should be first and foremost in your mind when navigating the coastal waters of Tampa, Florida. Before you set out on any boating excursion then, you want to make sure that the weather stays pleasant. Therefore, don’t leave the dock without confirming that the breeze will stay balmy and the sun will continue to shine during you boating journey.
Safety Items to Include Onboard
In addition to making sure that the weather will be cooperating when you are sailing or boating, you will need to make certain that you have the necessary safety equipment in place and on board. Necessary items include:
- A first aid kit;
- Throwable cushions;
- Coast Guard approved life jackets;
- Boat anchor;
- Hook; and
Other Precautions to Take before you Set out on your Trip
Communication equipment should include a VHF marine radio and cell phone. In addition, make sure you have a stock of extra batteries. If you are going on a day trip, take along provisions, such as food and drinking water. Also, before you make your departure, you will want to check the gasoline and fluid levels and make sure you leave an itinerary with close friends or non-boating members of your family.
Turn Around if Bad Weather Looms on the Horizon
Although you may check to ensure that the skies will stay clear, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t the possibility that the forecast will change. If you learn that a thunderstorm is headed your way, then it’s best to get back to the port immediately. Because you can receive a lightning strike from as far of distance as 20 miles, you need to turn around when storm clouds begin to loom on the horizon. Make sure everyone onboard is wearing his or her lifejacket too.
In Case of a Storm . . .
Should a storm catch you by surprise, you will need to batten down the hatches and secure the ports or, if on a sailing vessel, minimize the sails. If you and your passengers are on a small vessel, then the passengers need to go to the centerline and bottom of the boat. In addition to life jackets, everyone onboard should also wear shoes that safely grip the deck.
Tampa Residents Can Obtain Boater Safety Training Online
Safety should always be a priority when it comes to boating. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a basic boating safety course online that meets Florida’s mandatory safety training in boater education. The course is approved by the state of Florida and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. You can obtain further information by visiting the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.