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May 16 - 22 is National Safe Boating Week in Florida

Although Florida’s boating season never really ends, National Safe Boating Week  and Memorial Day weekend mark the traditional beginning around the country. On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Crist and Cabinet members passed a resolution proclaiming May 16-22 National Safe Boating Week in Florida.

At the Cabinet meeting, Col. Julie Jones, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement, and Rear Adm. Steve Branham, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Seventh District, used the recognition of National Safe Boating Week to speak about their combined boating safety efforts in Florida.

{sidebar id=1}Jones expressed excitement that state boating fatalities dropped 30 percent from 2007 to 2008 but warned that much work remains.

“Friends and families of the victims remind us daily that we still have a lot of work to do,” Jones said.

“Always, always, wear your life jacket and ‘Boat Responsibly,’” Branham said, echoing a safe-boating motto.

He also stressed the importance of filing a float plan, having a working VHF marine radio on board and purchasing a distress signal known as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, or EPIRB.

Both Jones and Branham encouraged all boaters to take time to concentrate on executing simple, but effective steps to make their experience safer, like staying focused while operating a boat and getting one of the new, comfortable, inflatable life jackets – and wearing it all the time while on the water.

Branham demonstrated the user-friendly features of inflatable life jackets for the governor and Cabinet members.

“We live in the greatest boating state in the nation,” Jones said, “and we intend to see that it just gets better, and safer – for all of us to enjoy.

“The FWC recognizes National Safe Boating Week as part of its commitment to continue making boating safer in Florida,” Jones noted. “The best ways to avoid boating accidents and fatalities is for the captain to pay attention and for all aboard to wear life jackets.”

This article originally published on May 17, 2009.

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