COLUMBUS, Ohio – With the unofficial start of summer just days away, boaters are anxious to get back on the water. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a few reminders to help keep families safe ahead of this Memorial Day weekend.
“Our rivers and lakes will be busy this weekend with people looking to kick off summer with their family and friends,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We want to make sure everyone stays safe. That means life jackets, respecting your fellow boaters and the water, and never mixing alcohol and boating.”
In Ohio, alcohol is involved in nearly a quarter of all fatal boating accidents. Just like driving a car, it is illegal in Ohio to operate a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. Operating a boat under the influence carries serious penalties such as being arrested and having the boat impounded.
ODNR and the National Safe Boating Council offers these tips for enjoying a safe and fun holiday weekend on the water:
- Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. New innovative styles provide mobility and flexibility during water activities. Read more about life jacket safety here.
- Check equipment. Make sure you have and know how to use all the essential equipment.
- Make a float plan. Let family and friends know where you’re going and when you will return.
- Use an engine cutoff device. An engine cutoff device is a proven safety device to stop the boat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
- Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during your excursion.
- Know what’s going on around you at all times. Often, boating accidents are caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
- Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
- Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
- Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important devices in an emergency.
By making sensible choices, you should have no problem enjoying your boat to its fullest while ensuring that everyone plays safe. Hear advice from one of our Natural Resources Officers here (Video in link).
The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, protection and conservation of Ohio’s state parks and waterways.