Water-Related News

Boating safety in Polk

As the weather warms, Polk County's waterways can get congested.

Fishermen, air boaters, water skiers, jet skiers, joy riders and whatever those turbo jet things are that lift you in the air – they all share the same bodies of water. And that all that traffic means you need to use caution when out enjoying one of the nearly 554 lakes we have.

Florida law requires a vessel to have at least one Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) per person.

In addition, those under the age of 16 are required to wear one at all times on a vessel less than 26 feet in length. There are plenty of products on the market that claim to help children stay afloat, such as water wings, floaties, pool noodles, etc.; however, these are not a substitute for Coast Guard-approved PFDs in a genuine emergency.

Finally, whether boating or swimming, consuming alcohol or other substances such as drugs is never a good idea. These can impair judgement, coordination and balance. They affect a person's ability to operate a vessel and their ability to swim, as well as lower body temperature that can allow for quicker onset of hypothermia. Parents should also never consume these items when watching their children swim.