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MIAMI BEACH, FL - JULY 04: In an aerial view from a drone, Boats are anchored off of the closed beach on July 04, 2020 in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Miami-Dade county has closed beaches from July 3-7 and imposed a curfew from from 10pm to 6am in preparation for the July 4th holiday weekend. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Spring has arrived and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to make sure that everyone recreating on our waters goes home safely at the end of the day.

The FWC encourages all boaters to “Spring Aboard” by taking a boating safety course today. Safety is never optional!

In 2020, Florida boating accident statistics indicated that, when the level of operator education was known, 72% of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.

While not currently required, owners of human-powered watercraft, such as paddleboards and kayaks, are encouraged to take a boating education class as well so they are aware of critical boating knowledge that anyone who plans to get out on the water should have, and be better prepared for the risks they may face while boating.

“In Florida, boaters who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, are required to complete and pass a boater safety education course. But everyone interested in boating should take a course,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “There’s no reason to head out on the water without this knowledge.”

Boaters have many ways to get educated, from classroom courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons to online offerings available anytime day or night. Learn more about boater safety education by visiting MyFWC.com/boating and clicking on “Boating Safety and Education.”

Katherine Viloria is Beasley Media Group's Fort Myers Digital Content Manager. She loves to write, snap photos, and watch Grey's Anatomy. Connect with her on Instagram @alittlethisalittlekat