Town officials remind residents to follow boating safety tips

Caption: IMG_5661.JPG: Boats on the water.

North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and the Town Board would like to remind residents of responsible boating practices for the 2019 season.

“Boater safety education is crucial. It can prevent accidents and save lives,” said Bosworth. “By carefully following the rules of the water, respecting the waters and obtaining the proper certifications and training, you are not only protecting yourself and your family, but other boaters as well.”

According to the most recent Recreational Boating Statistics, an annual report that contains statistics on recreational boating accidents and state vessel registration, “In 2017, the Coast Guard counted 4,291 accidents that involved 658 deaths, 2,629 injuries and approximately $46 million of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.” Statistics for 2018 are not yet available.

These chilling numbers are an indication that boaters need to be aware of safety measures on all waterways including when boating off of North Hempstead’s Town Dock in Port Washington.

Boating while intoxicated is not taken lightly, and can lead to serious consequences. In New York State, you will be arrested for BWI for operating a boat or personal watercraft with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. Just as with driving, alcohol affects your peripheral vision, night vision, judgment, coordination, balance, reaction time and ability to focus: all skills that are necessary to operate a watercraft.

To stay safe, boaters should carry the necessary boating information and certifications with them at all times. It is important to have the right safety gear and equipment before you get out on the water, such as a first aid kit, life jackets, and distress signals. It is also imperative for boaters to always be aware of the weather conditions, operate at a safe speed at all times, and avoid alcohol.

Safety Tips for Boating

Wear a life jacket every time you are out on the water. The 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics compiled by the United States Coast Guard showed that over 80 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, almost 83 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Life jackets must be readily accessible; not in packaging or buried below other gear.

Make sure all of your life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved and in good condition with no rips or tears. Replace worn out jackets so when needed, they will provide the buoyancy necessary to keep you afloat and alive.

Size matters when it comes to life jacket selection and use. When boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly sized and fitted life jackets. Children must not be able to slide out of life jackets when they hit the water.

Don’t operate a vessel while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 15 percent of deaths in the 2012 boating statistics.

Pay attention to your surroundings and boat responsibly. 77 percent of deaths on boats occurred where the operator had no boating safety instruction.

For more information on safety tips and navigation rules, call 311.

Submitted by the Town of North Hempstead.

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