As we head into summer, boating season in Southwest Florida is in full swing and many of us are excited to hit the water. However, it’s important to keep in mind certain concerns and take necessary safety measures before embarking on your boating adventure. Here are some important factors to keep in mind as you prepare to launch your boat.

Heat and Sun Exposure: High temperatures and prolonged sun exposure can lead to heat exhaustion, dehydration, and sunburn. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and a hat, and seek shade during the hottest parts of the day.

Thunderstorms: Summer often brings thunderstorms that can develop quickly, posing a risk to boaters. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and radar updates before heading out. If a storm is approaching, it’s best to seek shelter on land or in a protected marina until it passes.

Navigation Aids and Markers: With increased boating activity, navigation aids and markers are essential for safe navigation. Pay attention to channel markers, buoys, and navigational aids, and use charts or GPS systems to ensure you stay in safe waterways. If you are unsure about navigating our waterways, here’s an excellent place to get caught up: Know Before You Go

Increased Boat Traffic: Many people take to the water during the summer, increasing boat traffic. Be mindful of other vessels, follow navigational rules, and always maintain a safe speed. Keep a lookout for swimmers, kayakers, paddleboarders, and other watercraft.

Wildlife and Marine Life: Summer is a busy time for wildlife and marine life. Be aware of nesting areas, protected species such as manatees, and sensitive ecosystems such as seagrass flats and mangrove shorelines. Maintain a safe distance and avoid disturbing or harming wildlife. Additionally, be cautious of jellyfish, stingrays, or other marine creatures when swimming or walking on the beach.

Nighttime Boating: Summer evenings can be a great way to beat the heat and enjoy the beauty of a sunset on the water, but ensure your boat has proper navigation lights that are functioning correctly before you do. Be extra cautious when boating at night, as reduced visibility can make spotting other vessels, buoys, or obstacles challenging.

Boating Under the Influence: Summer festivities sometimes involve alcohol, but it’s important to remember that boating under the influence is illegal and dangerous. Designate a sober operator for your boat to ensure everyone’s safety.

With some common sense and precaution, you and your passengers can have a safe and enjoyable boating experience on Southwest Florida’s waterways this Summer. See you on the water!

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