As Fort Myers injury attorneys, we were saddened to learn that one teenager died and another was injured during a tragic tubing accident earlier this month.
According to authorities, the two girls riding on a tube being pulled by a fishing boat when the boat's driver, a 15-year-old boy, attempted to turn. The tube carrying the girls hit a nearby dock, ejecting them from the tube.
Unfortunately, tubing accidents are on the rise. From 1991 through 2009, an estimated 69,471 injuries were treated in US emergency departments for water tubing-related injuries, according to a recent study. The annual number of cases increased by 250% over the 19-year study period.
Therefore, the next time you go tubing, we urge you to keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Always wear a life jacket: It should go without saying that you should wear a life jacket when water tubing. This is especially important in the event that the rider should become separated from the boat.
- Know your equipment: It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for water tubing capacity in terms of size and weight, number of riders, age limits, and maximum towing speed.
- Know your rider: Drivers should always exercise common sense when it comes to the experience of the person on the tube. This is particularly true with small children. While sharp turns, high speeds, and big waves can be fun, these should never come at the expense of rider safety.
- Use a spotter: One person onboard should serve as a “spotter.” This person’s job is to keep a lookout for water tubing accidents or see if anyone has fallen off the tube, while the boat driver concentrates on oncoming obstacles.
- Be aware of water regulations: Make sure you are familiar with the specific regulations governing the particular body of water, especially towing speeds.
- Drive Responsibly: The driver should be alert, sober, and have a solid grasp of boating rules and regulations. Be respectful of and keep your distance from other boats in the area when water tubing, and always keep an eye out for additional water hazards such as rocks, docks, and buoys.
- Use a secure tow line: It’s important to always make sure that the tow line is securely tied before take off. Also be sure to check for signs of wear, tear, and fraying, and replace as needed. Be sure to only use rope that is specifically designated for towing inflatables.
- Check before you start: Never start the boat without first making sure that your rider is ready to go. This means that they have a firm grip on the line, are properly positioned on the tube, and that the line is properly and safely positioned.
- Handle wakes with care: Slow the boat speed when crossing wakes. Bouncing off wakes at extremely high speeds can cause back injury.
- Exercise caution when pulling more than one tube.
Source: Discover Boating