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Use of Boating Safety Equipment Saves Lives in Florida

Life Preservers Play Key Role in Deadly Boating Accidents

            Unfortunately, at least two lives were tragically lost due to a boating accident on Utah’s Lake Powell on June 20, 2013.  Adrian Jackman, 59, of South Jordan was driving a motorboat carrying 13 people when he collided with a houseboat, causing his own boat to flip over. His wife Marilyn Jackman was killed, along with his son’s girlfriend, Valerie Rae Bradshaw.      The Utah Highway Patrol dive team had to use a robot to recover Ms. Bradshaw’s body from where it was submerged in 340 feet of water.  The search continues for the driver’s daughter, Jessica Jackman, 22, also of South Jordan, Utah.   Mr. Jackman and his 11-year-old granddaughter had to be airlifted to a Flagstaff, Arizona hospital following the accident, along with an unidentified third person. Fortunately, all three were released by the hospital that same day.

Although all of the crash details are still under investigation, it is reported that Mr. Jackman became distracted by the children playing on his boat just before the crash. Witnesses said that although he tried swerving to avoid hitting the houseboat, he still clipped its front corner. Fortunately, the Kane County deputies reported that the six children aboard the motorboat who survived were all wearing life preservers. Everyone on the motorboat was hurled into the lake waters when the craft flipped over.                                                                                            The United States Coast Guard statistics confirm that most boating deaths are due to the victims drowning.  As with the Utah accident, wearing a life jacket, particularly for young children, greatly increases your chance of survival in a boating accident.  In fact, Florida law requires children in small boats to wear a life jacket at all times.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission recommends the following safety equipment be onboard all boats between the size of 16 to 26 feet:

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

One approved Type I, II or III for each person on board or being towed on water skis etc., in addition, one throwable Type IV device

Must be USCG-approved. Must be in serviceable condition. Must be properly stored.

NOTE: A Type V hybrid may substituted for any Type I, II or III device, but it must actually be worn whenever the vessel is underway and the person is not in the cabin or other enclosed area.

Class I: Every person on board under the age of 6 must wear an approved Type I, II or III while the vessel is underway.

Water Skier: Every person skiing or aquaplaning must wear an approved Type I, II or III PFD. Inflatable PFDs are prohibited.

Fire Extinguisher

One USCG-approved B-1 type fire extinguisher is required for all recreational motorboats except outboard-powered motorboats less than 26 feet long if constructed in a manner that will not allow gas fumes to accumulate. If your boat has a built-in fuel tank, an inboard engine, compartments where portable fuel tanks may be stored, or open areas between the hull and deck where flammable or explosive gases could accumulate, you must carry a fire extinguisher. Non-motorized boats are exempt from the fire extinguisher requirements.

The fire extinguisher must be USCG-approved and must be in serviceable condition.

NOTE: When an approved fixed fire extinguishing system is installed in the machinery space(s), it may be counted in the place of one B-I type hand-held portable fire extinguisher. Some fire extinguishers require specific mounting brackets for approval. Read the label on your fire extinguisher for this information.

Visual Distress Signal

Required on the high sea and coastal waters only.

Must carry visual distress signal for both day and nighttime use.

NOTE: Coastal waters means the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and all bays, sounds, harbors, rivers, inlets, etc. where any entrance is over 2 miles wide to the first point where the distance between shorelines narrows to 2 miles.

Sound-producing Device (bell, horn, whistle, etc.)

Every vessel less than 12 meters (39.4 ft) in length must carry an efficient sound-producing device. The sound-producing device need not meet any particular specifications, as long as the vessel can produce signals required by the navigational rules.

Backfire Flame Control

An effective means of controlling backfire flame of all gasoline engines installed after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors

Backfire flame arrestors must be USCG approved.

Ventilation (Boats built prior to Aug. 1, 1980)

At least two ventilator ducts fitted with cowls or their equivalent for the purpose of properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of every closed engine and fuel -tank compartment of boats constructed or decked over after April 25, 1940, using gasoline as fuel or other fuels having a flash point of 110 degrees or less.

Ventilation (Boats built after Aug. 1, 1980)

At least two ventilator ducts for the purpose of efficiently ventilating every closed compartment that contains a gasoline engine and every closed compartment containing a gasoline tank, except for those having permanently installed tanks which vent outside the boat and contain no unprotected electrical devices. Also, engine compartments containing a gasoline engine having a cranking motor must contain power operated exhaust blowers which can be controlled from the instrument panel.

Vessel Lighting

Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of reduced visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules specify lighting requirements for every description of watercraft. The information provided is for vessels less than 65.5 feet/20 meters in length.

If you’ve suffered a serious worker’s compensation injury, contact the Maus Law Firm to learn more about your rights.  The Maus Law Firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and the Florida Keys, and handles accident and injury claims throughout Miami-Dade, Monroe, Collier, Lee, Broward and Palm Beach counties.  You’ll need the help of an experienced South Florida worker’s compensation attorney on your side. Call Toll Free today at: (855) 999-LAWS, or locally at (954) 784-6310.