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Paddling safety tips

Many people want to take advantage of Florida's beautiful waterways. From large boats to swimmers and everyone in between, the water can be a peaceful and relaxing place. However, watersports also have a lot of risk. People need to be prepared for the worst when out on the water.

In particular, people in small personal watercrafts -- like a canoe, paddleboard or kayak -- need to be especially careful when in the water. They are at risk of injuries from larger boats. Take, for example, the recent case of a woman who suffered serious injuries while paddle boarding in Florida -- highlighted in an earlier blog post. In that case, the woman's leg had to be amputated after she was hit by another larger boat in the water.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there are several things that people can do to keep themselves safe while paddling in Florida. In particular, people need to be strong swimmers. They have to have the ability to swim in fast moving water and surf, even when underwater. And even when people are swimmers, they still need to wear floatation devices in case of emergency.

Paddlers should also make sure to plan their trips before heading out on the water. They should have their route, along with enter and exit points and an alternative route, planned ahead of time. This route should take the group's limitations into consideration.

While on the water, people should make sure to keep an eye out for hazards. This includes fog, rapids and other larger boats. People should make sure to carry appropriate supplies on their trip including signals for low light conditions, a spare paddle, rescue gear and first aid kit.

If people are injured in paddling and boating accidents, they should explore their legal rights. An attorney can help to determine if negligence caused the accident and if compensation is available.

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