Officials Urge Water Safety After 6 Boating Deaths This Year - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Officials Urge Water Safety After 6 Boating Deaths This Year

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DELMARVA - The 4th of July holiday is known as the busiest time of the year out on the water and because of celebrations, safety can often take a backseat to fun.

The average each year in Maryland for boating deaths is thirteen, but so far this year, there have already been six. The governor calls it a "disturbing trend," and for a good reason. With the busy July 4th weekend still ahead of us, state and federal agencies say to always be prepared for the worst, and to wear life jackets.

"Remember life jackets float, you don't," says Lieutenant Art Windemuth, area commander for the upper eastern region of Maryland.

Windemuth recommends boaters to play it "SAFE." The "S" stands for "survey" and inspect your vessel prior to leaving the dock. This includes checking the engine and checking all of the fittings to make sure the vessel itself is in good and working condition. The "A" stands for "anticipate" your needs, such as medicine, food, and water, and also the weather before you leave the dock. The "F" stands for "file" a float plan, and to carry a cell phone or have other ways of contacting emergency personnel if a situation arises.

"Tell a friend or relative where you're going, how long you are going to be there, and what time to expect you back," says Lieutenant Windemuth.

Finally, the "E" stands for equipment, and to make sure all of your safety equipment is aboard the vessel. Officials also recommend to never boat or swim alone, and obey all warning signs. There is also a chance for carbon monoxide on the boat, known as the "silent killer," that most people may not think about. Officials say although its rare, poisoning does happen.

"If you have a boat with a blower make sure that you use that blower and if you have a canopy. that you make sure that it's not enclosed while the motor's running," says Melissa Bean, park ranger for the US Army Core of Engineers.

Officials say most of the problems they see out on the water involve alcohol, and although drinking is not illegal, they still recommend leaving those types of beverages back on the shore for later.

"Many, many times throughout the year we investigate boating fatalities from people that are intoxicated and fall overboard," says Lieutenant Windemuth.

The Maryland Boating Safety also recommends, if an emergency occurs, to immediately call 911, and remember to Reach, Throw, Row and Go:

  • REACH the person in trouble by extending a releasable item, such as a pole, line or rope to pull them to safety, but not by hand as the rescuer could quickly become another victim.
  • THROW an object that floats to the victim if they are unreachable. A life ring, life jacket, cooler or plastic jug are suitable floating objects that can keep a troubled swimmer afloat until rescues arrive.
  • ROW to the victim, using a canoe or any other safe watercraft. The rescuer must wear a life jacket. Once the victim is nearby, a rope or paddle should be extended and used to tow the victim to shore if possible.
  • GO find help or yell to get other people's attention and have someone call 911.

Police say despite the dangers, you can still have a good time, as long as you are careful, and if you choose to stay off the water, keep your eyes open.

"We want everyone to be a vigilant citizen and out there keeping an eye on strangers, family members friends," says Bean.

For more information, visit the Maryland Boating Safety website.

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