RICHMOND —The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) are reminding all boaters to stay safe and sober this summer, and always wear a life jacket while on the water during Operation Dry Water Weekend on July 1-3.
Operation Dry Water Weekend is a weekend dedicated nationwide to amplified recreational boater outreach, education, and coordinated enforcement surrounding boating under the influence.
“A good day on the water can turn tragic in seconds. No matter where you boat–from large lakes and rivers to small farm ponds—wearing a life jacket and staying sober are essential for safety!” DWR said in a press release.
According to DWR, alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading contributor in boating incidents.
DWR encourages all boaters to enjoy the boating season and help keep everyone safe by choosing to boat sober, noting the use of both legal and illegal drugs also impairs judgment and reaction time and creates dangerous circumstances while on the water.
“Individuals and families from across the country head to our nation’s waterways for a fun, safe, and pleasant experience out on the water. Our goal is to not only educate boaters on the dangers of impaired boating, but also to remind them of other safe boating practices, such as enrolling in a boater education course and always wearing a life jacket,” said Paige Pearson, Public Information Officer. “To ensure that everyone is safe out on the water, we have partnered with Operation Dry Water to assist in educating operators and passengers on the dangers associated with boating under the influence. DWR wants boaters to have a safe and enjoyable summer while out on the water, and to do that boat operators and passengers must remain sober and alert while underway.”
DWR offers the following tips to boaters:
- While getting ready for the boating season, boaters should make sure they have U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets in good condition that fit every occupant of the boat, including children.
- No matter what time of year you go boating, always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Also, have a plan to reboard your boat in case the unexpected happens and you end up in the water.
- Weather conditions and a marine forecast can be found on the National Weather Service website. The United States Geological Survey has water temperatures for some inland lakes and rivers.
To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and information on boating, boating education and water safety, visit: dwr.virginia.gov/boating, and DWR recommends taking a boating safety education course.