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Understanding the Importance of Boating Safety Education in South Florida

Understanding the Importance of Boating Safety Education in South Florida

Understanding the Importance of Boating Safety Education in South Florida 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

In South Florida, where boating is a beloved pastime, the waters can be as beautiful as they are dangerous. Tragically, this past weekend South Florida lost another young soul when Ella Adler was hit by a boater while she was wakeboarding off of Key Biscayne’s Nixon Beach. Incredibly, the boat operator did not stop to render assistance and instead fled the scene west.   

This tragedy comes on the heels of another tragic accident involving the loss of a young life that has sparked discussions about the need for boating safety education and licensing in the state.  Luciana Cristina Fernandez, a student at Our Lady of Lourdes, lost her life in a boating accident on Labor Day Weekend 2022 when the captain of the boat in which she was a passenger inexplicably drove the boat into a stationary pylon throwing everybody overboard. 

As reported by CBS News, Lucy’s mother said “[she] was an exceptional friend, daughter, sister. She was a really hard worker. And she had a lot of goals and dreams and aspirations like every 17-year-old.”  Lucy’s heartbreaking tragedy  has highlighted the importance of boating safety and the potential consequences of not being adequately prepared on the water.  This past weekend’s tragedy proves her parent’s plight to bring boat safety awareness across South Florida is a fight that merits attention from the entire community.

Florida is known for its picturesque waterways, attracting locals and tourists alike to enjoy activities such as fishing, cruising, and water sports. However, with this beauty comes responsibility. Boating accidents can happen in an instant, and being unprepared can lead to devastating outcomes.

Proposed Solution: Boating License Requirements 

One proposed solution advocated by Lucy’s parents to improve safety on the water is the implementation of a boating license or boater certification requirement in Florida for all ages. Currently, the state does not require boaters to obtain a license before operating a vessel. It merely requires persons born after January 1, 1988 to obtain a Florida Boating Safety I.D. Card.  This lack of regulation has raised concerns about the level of knowledge and skill among boaters, potentially contributing to accidents like the one that claimed the young girl’s life.

“…see the light above the darkness- in everyone and every situation.”

– Luciana C. Fernandez.

To that end, her parents, Andy and Melissa Fernandez, founded the Lucy Fernandez Foundation.  One of the initiatives of the Foundation is to bring boating and watercraft safety to the forefront of South Florida and beyond by promoting, coordinating and offering Boating Safety Education Classes.  Another is to encourage Florida’s Legislature to revise and enhance boating license requirements in Florida consistent with other States.  As Lucy’s father has repeatedly stated, “enough is enough.” 

Boating safety courses cover a range of topics, including navigation rules, emergency procedures, and the effects of alcohol and drug use on boating performance. These courses not only educate boaters on how to safely operate a vessel but also promote responsible behavior on the water.

Boating Safety Precautions

In addition to boating safety courses, proper equipment, and precautions can greatly reduce the risk of accidents. Life jackets should be worn at all times, especially by children and non-swimmers. Boats should also be equipped with emergency supplies, such as flares, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher.

Stay Safe On The Water

As members of the South Florida community, we have a responsibility to promote boating safety and prevent future tragedies like the ones experienced by Ella Adler’s family this weekend. By advocating for boating education and licensing requirements, we can help ensure that our waters remain a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.

Let us honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in boating accidents by taking action to prevent future tragedies. To learn more about how you can help the Lucy Fernandez Foundation visit their web page or follow them on Instagram.  Together, we can make South Florida’s waterways safer for all who enjoy them.

 

Sources: 

https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/familys-tragic-loss-of-daughter-could-mean-florida-boaters-would-need-boating-license/

​​https://www.flhsmv.gov/motor-vehicles-tags-titles/vessels/boating-safety-education/#

https://myfwc.com/boating/safety-education/safety-tips/

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