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Be Prepared If Emergency Arises, Officials Warn As Boaters Flock To Waters

Be prepared if an emergency arises when out on the water this four-day July 4th weekend.
Be prepared if an emergency arises when out on the water this four-day July 4th weekend. Photo Credit: DEEP/EnConn Police

Boaters need to be prepared if an emergency arises when out on the water this July 4th holiday and throughout the summer, officials are warning.

Marine patrol units in the region are increasing their marine presence over the four-day weekend to make sure vessels are safe and boaters obey Boating While Intoxicating laws.

Before heading out on the water, check to make sure your boat has required safety equipment on board, including a personal flotation device for each person on board.

Kids under 12  must wear life jackets at all times in New York on boats less than 65 feet and all times in Connecticut.

"Be prepared should an emergency arise and remember that you are sharing the water with other boats, kayaks, personal watercraft such as Jet-Skis and swimmers," said County Executive George Latimer in Westchester where police marine units will be patrolling the Hudson River.

He suggested that all boats have a “designated driver” who is not drinking or that boaters hold off on consuming alcohol until they are back at the marina or on shore.

Under Connecticut law, no person may operate a boat or watercraft on Connecticut’s waterways while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An operator must be free from physical or mental disabilities which might interfere with the control of the boat. Click here for a boater's safety guide.

On Long Island, the Town of Huntington has set up temporary speed zones through July 4th and have stepped up water patrols to make sure boaters have proper safety equipment on board and prevent speeding and boater intoxication. Click here for a speed restriction map.

Oyster Bay marine patrol units will be enhanced said Supervisor Joseph Saladino at a Tuesday, July 2 press conference where he met with Town constables and Nassau County Police to remind residents of appropriate safety measures that should be taken for boaters and personal watercraft operators ahead of the holiday weekend.

An avid boater himself, Saladino said he is committed to protecting the safety and welfare of all who enjoy our waterways for the holiday.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating-related deaths and accidents, according to federal statistics.

“Operating a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime,” said Westchester's Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason.

“Just as we enforce DWI laws on land, we have zero tolerance for BWI offenses on our waterways," Gleason said.

Here are some boater safety tips:

  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Make sure the boat you are using is safe. Have safety equipment including the flotation devices, throw rings, visual and audible distress signals, fire extinguishers, anchor, and navigation and anchor lights.
  • Leave a float plan with someone on shore telling when you are leaving and when you will return.
  • Check local weather forecasts before you leave.
  • Never operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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