Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) is urging all residents to stay safe this Columbus Day weekend. In South Florida, Columbus Day is associated with boating and long days on the high seas. Over the long weekend, MDFR’s Fire Boat and Marine Operations Bureau will be out all weekend long, patrolling the waterways.
To ensure a safe and fun-filled weekend, MDFR is encouraging residents to consider the following safety tips:
- Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)- One wearable PFD for each person aboard is required; and they should be stowed where readily available. United States Coast Guard statistics indicate that on average, over 600 people drown annually in boating accidents. About 88 percent could have survived if they had worn a PFD.
- Have a fire extinguisher onboard- Fire extinguishers are a very important safety item. Make sure to inspect your fire extinguishers monthly to ensure they are properly stored, charged, and undamaged.
- Test your boat lights- Always test your boat lights before you leave the dock. If you use battery-operated lights, always carry extra batteries.
- Alcohol and boating don’t mix- Alcohol impairs your judgment, balance and coordination – over 50 percent of drownings result from boating incidents involving alcohol. Balance is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol, and when you combine this with the rocking of the boat, the chances of falling overboard increase.
- Watch the weather- Check weather warnings and forecasts before leaving shore and while at sea. Remain watchful for signs of bad weather and listen to weather radio broadcasts on your VHF radio.
- Develop a float plan- Give a responsible person details about where you will be and how long you will be gone. In the event of an emergency, this information could be the key to finding you and bringing help to your location.
- Hydrate- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol or high sugar content since they actually contribute to dehydration.
For more information, please contact MDFR’s Public Affairs Bureau at 786-331-5200.