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Splashing into Summer, first responders want you to enjoy the waterways, safely

Posted on 06/05/2023

Winter Park, Florida isn’t just known for its iconic Park Avenue and tree-lined streets, but also its many lakes and beautiful canals that draw so many who love the water this time of year. With summer temps beginning to peak, it’s no surprise more and more boats, people and vessels are coming off the docks and making a splash.

Firefighters, marine patrol officers and officials with Ride Dry, Drive Dry recently hosted a boat display and educational event at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market. The goal – touch on those very important reminders that help all who enjoy the waters of Winter Park, safely. With almost half of all boating accidents involving alcohol, Ride Dry, Drive Dry has made it their mission to promote fun, yet responsible and sober driving. EMS and rescuers, along with marine patrol officers have seen first-hand the devastating results of boating under the influence. Patrolling the waterways remains a top priority, with efforts by law enforcement to combat boating under the influence ongoing focus.

The May event brought more than just cool boats, but also local first responders who helped fit children for life-jackets, use a fire extinguisher and learn hands-only CPR.

Firefighters and EMS strongly encourage ALL individuals to learn CPR and take a first-aid class. Accidents or medical emergencies on the water, particularly out on a boat require citizen bystanders to intervene until help arrives. Knowing that 45 percent of cardiac arrest victims survive when bystander CPR is administered, underscores the importance of taking a class. The Winter Park Fire Department regularly hosts CPR classes, if one that is scheduled doesn’t work, private sessions can be coordinated.  “CPR is a class everyone should take. But this time of year, we particularly encourage homeowners with pools, parents and grandparents with young children, and those out on the lakes to become CPR certified and take a first-aid class,” says Tim Millard, a retired firefighter and CPR instructor.

If plans include launching a boat or any vessel, here’s a few helpful reminders to know before you go.

· In Florida, children under age six must wear a life jacket at all times on any vessel. A life jacket for every passenger must be on board (U.S. Coast Guard approved).

· Anyone born after January 1, 1988, must have a state Boating Safety ID card and picture ID to operate vessels over 10 hp. Children between the ages of 14 to 17 must have an additional Winter Park boater’s license for use in the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.  (Check local ordinances for any additional requirements.)

· In Florida, children under 14 cannot operate a motorboat (including jet skis) over 10 hp.

· Jet skis and other vessels must maintain 300 feet from other vessels or persons they are towing in the water (water skiers, surfers, tubers, etc.).

· Kayakers and paddle boarders are required to have a life jacket and sound-making device 
on board.