Boat safety

Break Your Wake This Summer

Five boating safety tips for traveling the waterways this summer

Summer is officially here and many local residents and visitors are beating the heat by splashing around on local waterways. With so many boaters taking to the water, the risk for boating accidents increases. Don't let boating safety take a backseat on summer outings. Hillsborough County's Marine Safety Unit does their part to keep the waterways safe, but reminds residents and visitors that they can continue to make Hillsborough County a great place to live, work, and play with five simple boating tips.

1. Whether boating, fishing, paddling, or skiing on the water - always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.

  • Drowning is the number one cause of death in boating accidents, and accidents happen much too fast to reach for a life jacket.
  • Life Jackets are ALWAYS required if you're on a Jet Ski and for any kids age six and under.

2. Take a safe boating course - especially if you're new to our area.

  • Boating courses help you learn navigation rules and the local waterway laws. Most courses are free and are offered in both English and Spanish. Check out the online courses.
  • Know who has the right-of-way.
  • Keep your eyes on the water - don't get distracted.

3. Preparation is key.

4. Break your wake.

  • As a boater, you are responsible for the speed of your vessel and the wake it creates when moving through the water. "Breaking your wake" means being considerate of the "waves" you leave behind for other boaters, paddlers, and the wildlife sharing the water. It's more than common courtesy, it's a serious safety issue.
  • Adhere to no-wake zones and when in doubt, slow down or stop.

5. Designate a skipper.

  • Don't drink and drive. Boating under the influence (BUI) cases are treated seriously, in part, because Florida leads the nation in annual boating deaths. If you boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol your voyage may be terminated, the boat may be impounded, and the operator may be arrested. Penalties can include large fines, jail time, and a possible felony conviction.

Help us keep the waterways safe for everyone!

Boating Safety Hacks and How-To's 

For boating safety hacks and how-to’s, check out our Hillsborough Television video series.

Photo Information: Hillsborough County waterways are a great place to celebrate the Fourth of July.


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