Boating can be fun while you are on holiday. Whether a Jet-Ski or Boat or any other type of watercraft keep it safe by simply observing a few simple tips:
Alcohol - Do Not drink while in control of a boat, you can be arrested for Boating Under the Influence - BUI.
Weather - Check the weather forecast and be up to date on any possible storms or bad weather.
Overloading - Do not have more people on the boat than it is designed for.
Life Preservers - Ensure there are enough life preservers for everyone.
Hiring a Boat - If hiring a boat, LISTEN to all the advice the boat owner tells you, it can save your life. (You will also need your driving license)
Sea Worthy - Always inspect the boat fully before leaving the docks.
Fuel - Make sure there is enough fuel in. We hired a boat and by the time we got out into the gulf we ran out of fuel.
Sea Life - Be careful not hit sea creatures like Dolphins and in particular Manatees.
Communications - Ensure you have a way to contact shore if you get into any trouble.
As with any tourist destination there are people who will take advantage of visitors to the sunshine state. Tourists have money, expensive cameras and other saleable items. Criminals can spot a tourist (especially British) a mile away and will wait for an opportune moment to strike. Following some simple steps will help reduce your risk of becoming a crime statistic in Florida.
Doors and Windows - Always lock doors and windows in your Hotel, Villa or Condo when you are home and more so when you are away.
Opening the Door - Never open your door if you are not sure of who is on the other side, use your peephole to see and if you are not sure contact the hotel security or dial 911 - If in a Villa or Condo. Trust me the police would rather come out to a false alarm than a crime scene.
Storing Valuables - If you are in a hotel, store valuables (Passport, Tickets, Home Keys, Mobile phone etc.) in a safety deposit box either in your room or at reception. If you have a Villa or Condo, make sure they are kept safe away from sight.
Your Car - DO NOT leave valuables in the car, this is just advertising "Steal Me". Also try to make the car look like it is local and NOT a tourist's car, by this I mean no beach towels, maps and discount books on show, keep a clean car.
After Your Day Out - When arriving back at your Hotel, Villa or Condo from a day out stay in the car and look all around outside to see if there is anyone there. Only leave the car when you are sure it is safe. This is good practice whenever you park your car as car parks are BIG and sometimes tree lined, which provides a perfect hiding place.
Dial 9-1-1 - If in doubt about anything DIAL 9-1-1.
Driving in Florida is fun with the endless miles of wide highways. The problem is tourists tend to panic when arriving and picking up their car. Many times, I have seen cars parked up at the side of the highway either broken down or worse crashed. Simply don't panic, it's just like driving here. Touch wood I have driven around 50,000 miles in Florida without a problem.
Seat belts - As here in the UK always wear your seat belt.
Under 18's - Passengers under 18 must wear a seat belt in either the front or back seat.
Under 5's - Children 5 and under must have an approved child seat.
Speed Limits - Abide by ALL speed limits and be aware of "Minimum Speeds" too. You don't want to meet a State Trooper, trust me.
Which Side - Sounds silly but remember to drive on the RIGHT side of the road.
Driving Etiquette - Try not to stand out, the easiest way to see a tourist is by the way they drive in Florida. Drive like the locals.
Water - Swimming.
There are lots of opportunities to swim and be around water in Florida. ALWAYS be careful around water whether it be the ocean a lake or even the swamps of the Everglades. Following some simple rules can help you avoid the risks associated with water.
Distance - DO NOT go too far out into the sea as you may become disoriented and drown.
Riptides - Riptides can be killers, swim near a lifeguard to reduce risks.
Inlets - DO NOT swim near rocks like some inlets have at the entrance.
Lakes and Rivers - DO NOT swim in lakes and rivers where there is no lifeguard or no certainty of it being safe. Alligators WILL bite....
Children - DO NOT leave children unsupervised in or near water, and DO NOT swim at night or in areas not designated for swimming.
People swarm to Florida for the sun and the heat; however, they do not consider the affect that weather can have on them. An example would be when one year we took my mother who has chest problems to Florida, immediately on leaving the aircraft in the walkway to the terminal she had a breathless event and it was not at the beauty of Florida.
Check Forecasts - Check the weather forecast daily. Pay attention to Humidity, Heat and any possible storms heading your way.
Sun Tan - Tanning can be dangerous. Moderate your exposure to the sun and use a high factor sun tan lotion. Keep applying, especially after being in water. Ensure children have Total Sun Block on.
Hydrate Often - Drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated and to keep you mentally alert.
Hurricanes - Hurricane season starts at the beginning of June and runs until the end of November. If there is a hurricane on the way keep an eye on the local media for help on what to do. Florida is well prepared for hurricanes.
Thunder Storms - Thunder storms are violent and dangerous in Florida. If you get caught in one take shelter in a store or fast-food outlet until it passes.
Lightning - Is a killer, so if you are on a golf course USE the facilities that are provided on most golf courses
Tornadoes - These are more common in Florida than you think. If you think there, is one around get into the bath tub or an inner room to protect yourself.
Rain - Rain does not take it's time to come down. If driving it can prohibit you visually, try to pull over somewhere until it passes.
The wildlife in Florida is varied and sometimes dangerous. A good rule of thumb is to avoid wildlife contact at all times
Sharks - You might not like it but there ARE Sharks around the coast of Florida. Always swim near a lifeguard this will reduce the risk of coming into contact with Sharks.
Stingray's - Stingray's will avoid you when they can, however to be certain do the "Stingray Shuffle", slide your feet one in front of the other while walking through shallow water.
Raccoons - Avoid feeding, harassing or provoking Raccoons. They are cute but carry diseases and bite.
Alligators - Avoid feeding, harassing or provoking Alligators. They are found in lakes, rivers and marshes even on golf courses and within residential areas.
Snakes - Avoid Snakes at all times, you can never be sure if they are venomous or not.
Love Bugs - Are a pain when they swarm but harmless.
Wildlife link - Following this link "Wildlife" for further details of wildlife in Florida.