May 19-26 is Safe Boating Week and with Memorial Day approaching, we at the Massachusetts Environmental Police are urging boaters to make this a safe boating season.
A personal floatation device, or lifejacket, may be the most important piece of safety equipment for any boater. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 672 boating fatalities nationwide in 2010, and nearly 75 percent of those fatalities were due to drowning. Of those who drowned, 88 percent were not wearing a lifejacket.
Last year, there were 67 reported boating accidents in Massachusetts resulting in ten fatalities, up from 60 reported boating accidents in Massachusetts resulting in 16 fatalities in 2010. Drowning was the number one cause of fatalities in both years, and none of those victims wore lifejackets.
While lifejackets are important, that won’t do it alone. Always travel at reasonable speeds and always avoid operating boats under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Environmental police officers will be patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waters across the Commonwealth throughout the season to enforce state and federal recreational boating laws.
We also encourage boaters of all ages and experience to take a safe boating course. Click here for registration information and links to nationally approved course providers.
For more information on safe boating courses, contact the Environmental Police Boat and Recreational Vehicle Safety Bureau at (508)759-0002 and to report accidents, call (800) 632-8075.
Remember when you’re out on the water, safety first. I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant boating season.