FORT MYERS — Many boaters are not aware of the very real, life-threatening dangers associated with consuming alcohol while boating. Add environmental stressors to those usual factors resulting from drinking alcohol, and a truly perilous condition is present.
Consuming any type of alcohol produces certain physiological responses that directly affect the safety and well-being of the captain, passengers, and other boaters. Judgment and skills deteriorate impacting peripheral vision, balance, and ability to process information. Physical performance and reaction time are reduced.
Alcohol reduces depth perception, night vision, focus, and the ability to distinguish colors, especially red and green navigation lights. Alcohol consumption can result in inner ear disturbance, which can make it impossible for a person suddenly immersed in water to distinguish up from down. Life jackets are designed to move an unconscious victim face up, that is providing you are wearing one in the first place.
Operation Dry Water 2022 is taking place July 2 to 4, 2022 with heightened enforcement. Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related incidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger, more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.
The leading cause of fatalities in Florida is drowning with 73% not wearing a life jacket. All the local public safety experts encourage boaters to wear their life jackets and save the consumption of adult beverages for the marina. According to U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 91, Fort Myers Beach Commander Greg Masonick stated, “The Coast Guard has a zero-tolerance policy for boating while intoxicated. Always have a sober captain and save the party for the pier”. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the lead agency in investigating boating accidents reported that in 2021, 83% of boating accident fatalities did not take a boating safety class.
The Operation Dry Water outreach and awareness portion of the campaign is in effect year-round. Through the outreach efforts of NASBLA, (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) the U.S. Coast Guard, and the participating law enforcement agencies nationwide, Operation Dry Water focuses on spreading awareness of the danger of boating under the influence, as well as changing the cultural acceptance of drinking and boating.
The bottom line is boaters should learn more about safe boating by taking a safe boating class. Did you know that anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, must have a Boating Safety Education ID Card to legally operate a boat in Florida? Boating education just makes sense. Fort Myers area boaters can find the local classes online at http://www.aux91fmb.org/safeboating or by calling 239-690-6780 option 1.
The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is the lead agency protecting America’s seaward frontier in recreational boating safety. Our vessels and aircraft deploy across all the U.S. Every day the auxiliary saves hundreds of thousands in property and saves countless lives.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all mission areas. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org