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September 23, 2013

FWC: Stay safe while tubing

Live Oak — Inner tubes. Towables. Inflatable tubes. All are commonly used names for a popular boating item, and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

“Towed water sports can be a great way to enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways,” said Maj. Richard Moore, head of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Boating and Waterways Section. “We just want everyone to be as safe as possible when doing so.”

Unfortunately, there have been several recent accidents around the state in which passengers on a towable device struck an object, such as a dock, channel marker, piling or other boat. Last year, five people were injured and two were killed during these types of accidents.

The FWC says these and other accidents can be prevented through a few key precautions, including one particularly important one.

“When you are operating a boat that is towing passengers on a tube or something similar, their fate is in your hands,” Moore said. “They are not able to steer themselves in a safe direction and must rely on you to keep them safe. The main safety consideration is keeping them away from all other objects.”

Although there is no required specific distance to keep away from fixed objects or other boats, operators should not pull the tuber close enough to anything where there is risk of collision.

Doing so could not only result in a citation but, more importantly, it puts the life of the person being towed in jeopardy.

“A good rule of thumb is this: Twice the line should be fine,” Moore said. “If you consider the length of your towline and are diligent in keeping your boat at least two lengths of your towline away from all boats and other objects, you are much more likely to provide your riders with an enjoyable, safe time on the water.”

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