Sixty-two people lost their lives in Florida last year in boating accidents, and there have already been 11 deaths so far this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has released its 2013 Boating Accident Statistical Report.
The FWC is responsible for reviewing, analyzing and compiling boating accident data for the state. Its statistical report details boating accidents and their causes.
The theme of accident-related messages from FWC staff is clear: Officers want to help keep Florida's beautiful waterways a safe place to boat.
"Often, accidents can be prevented by more careful operation," said Lt. Seth Wagner. "It is critical for operators to maintain a proper lookout and focus on what is going on around their boat at all times."
Failing to have a proper lookout is a leading cause of boating accidents, statistics show.
In fatal accidents, drowning is the leading cause of death.
"There's an easy fix. Wear a life jacket," Wagner said. "There are several styles of life jackets available to boaters that won't interfere with your boating experience and may save your life."
Today's boaters can choose from several models of light and comfortable, inflatable belt-pack and over-the-shoulder life jackets that can be worn while fishing or enjoying the sun, and they do not interfere with boating activities.
Accidents can occur without warning, and if for some reason someone ends up in the water, quite often it's too late to put on a life jacket.
"The leading type of accident continues to be boaters colliding with other boats or objects," Wagner said. "With the number of boaters in our beautiful state, it's important to pay close attention to everything that's going on around you."
The 2013 Boating Accident Statistical Report is now available online at MyFWC.com/Boating; click on "Boating Accidents."