As Marylanders prepare to take to the state's waterways and parks this Memorial Day weekend for the traditional start of the summer season, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) urge boaters and park patrons alike to exercise caution this summer and throughout the year. To promote safety, NRP will be conducting an extensive statewide enforcement effort during the Memorial Day weekend.
The Natural Resources Police will aggressively target boaters operating in a reckless or negligent manner and/or under the influence of alcohol on the waterways. It will also focus on boaters not maintaining a proper lookout and not having the required safety equipment on board.
Meanwhile, patrols in the parks and forests will focus on picnic areas, pavilions, campgrounds, and waterfront areas for alcohol consumption, and will educate the public as to where these types of beverages are permitted. Patrols will also focus on underage alcohol possession and individuals driving under the influence of alcohol.
NRP also recommends that boaters continue to use good judgment and take extra precautions during this busy holiday weekend. Boaters can help ensure their safety and the safety of others enjoying Maryland's waterways by:
* Inspecting their vessel and its safety equipment for serviceability.
* Wearing an approved and properly fitted life jacket at all times while boating. Nationwide, approximately 700 people drown each year from recreational boating accidents.
* Knowing and obeying navigation rules, operating at a safe speed and maintaining a proper lookout.
* Be aware of fatigue on boaters caused by the wind, sun, and the motion of the boat.
* Staying in control of your vessel and respecting the rights of others enjoying the waterways.
* Ensuring that your boat is never overloaded.
* Leaving a float plan with someone at home describing where you are going, how long you will remain, and when you expect to return.
* Remaining sober and alert and remember the use of alcohol contributes to accidents on the water.
During 2008, some of the leading causes of boating accidents in Maryland were the result of faulty equipment, operator inexperience and inattentiveness, excessive speed, and excessive wake.