As the sun comes out and temperatures rise, Chief Robert Kalamaras and the Fairfield Police Department would like to share tips on boating and beach safety to keep residents safe this summer.
According to the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC), there were 4,168 boating accidents, 2,559 injuries and 613 deaths due to boating in 2019. When operating a boat, residents must remain vigilant and follow all safety guidelines.
While out on a boat, it’s important that everyone wears a life jacket. In 2019, 86% of drowning victims from recreational boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
Operators who navigate a boat under the influence are also much more likely to be involved in an accident than those who are sober. According to the NSBC, in 2019 23% of boating deaths listed alcohol as the leading factor. Among other contributing factors are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience and excessive speed.
“We ask that all residents out on waterways this summer exercise extreme caution while operating or riding on a boat,” Chief Kalamaras said. “We also urge those who are newly registered boat operators to take a safety course to ensure that everyone can enjoy the water safely and responsibly this summer.”
The Fairfield Police Department would like to share these safe boating tips with residents, courtesy the National Weather Service (NWS):
- Start each trip in your boat by going through a checklist of equipment and operation procedures, just like an airline pilot.
- When you take your family for a boat ride, tell a friend or neighbor where you are going and when you expect to return. If you change plans, let them know.
- Know the rules of the water and practice safe boating. Contact your local Coast Guard auxiliary, power squadron, or Red Cross for details about taking a boating safety course.
- Boating is safer and more fun when your boat is properly outfitted. Check with your nearest Coast Guard auxiliary for a free examination. Also check your boat’s capacity plate. It tells you how many people can safely be on board. Overloading is not only against the law, it’s dangerous.
- Before you set sail, check the forecast and keep your weather radio with you for updated reports.
- The wind can play tricks on a novice sailor in a small sailboat. The easiest way out of trouble is to let go of the main sheet. This will cock your bow into the wind almost immediately.
- The “man overboard” drill is as important on a small boat as it is on an ocean liner. Learn and practice the proper procedure for retrieving someone who has fallen overboard.
- Inspect your boat trailer thoroughly before heading to the lake or ocean. Tires, brakes, and safety chains should all be checked. Don’t be the victim of a dry land boating accident.
Fairfield Police would also like to share these tips from the NWS on how to safely enjoy the beach this summer:
- If you are caught in a rip current, stay calm. Don’t fight the current. Escape the current by swimming in a direction following the shoreline. When free of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
- Don’t become a victim while trying to help someone else caught in a rip current. Get help from a lifeguard. If a lifeguard isn’t present, yell instructions on how to escape. If possible, throw the rip current victim something that floats.
- If you intend to go into the water, make sure you know how to swim. Never swim alone. For maximum safety, swim near a lifeguard. Be cautious at all times.
- Be aware of the signs of rip currents. Things to look for include a channel of churning choppy water, a difference in water color, a line of seaweed or debris moving out into the lake or a break in the incoming wave pattern.
If you have any boating questions feel free to stop by the Fairfield Police Marine Unit office located in the South Benson Marina or call 203-254-4866. Those interested in a boat examination or vessel safety check are encouraged to contact the Fairfield Police Marine Unit who will conduct a check free of charge.