Sunday, July 21, 2024

DWR: Be Safe on the Water This Holiday Weekend

(Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is reminding all boaters to stay safe and sober this last weekend of summer and to always wear a life jacket while on the water.

“Recreational boating and paddlesports activities are enjoyed by individuals and families across the country. To ensure that everyone is safe out on the water, we will be out to assist in educating operators and passengers on the dangers associated with boating while impaired,” said Paige Pearson, DWR Public Information Officer. “We also will be reminding them of other safe boating practices, such as wearing a life jacket and enrolling in a boater education course. DWR wants everyone to have a great end to the summer on the water, and to do that boaters must remain sober and alert while underway.”

In the wake of the National Weather Service tropical storm warning and flood watch throughout the Commonwealth this week, DWR is also urging boaters to take extra precautions this week and weekend.

Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) have responded to and worked several boating incidents that have resulted in fatalities and injuries because boaters and anglers have attempted to navigate waters that were affected by heavy rains. These waters have significantly higher than normal water levels, dangerously swift currents, and trash and other debris that could be floating on the surface or just below the waterline, DWR said.

DWR reminds 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.

Safety Tips: 

  • Scout the river and know the location of hazards. Talk with boaters who are familiar with the river to gain additional knowledge.
  • Boat with experienced, responsible boaters and learn from them.
  • Watch for a smooth horizon line where the stream meets the sky. This potentially indicates the presence of a dam.
  • Look out for concrete retaining walls which are part of the dam structure and easier to spot.
  • Portage around all dams.
  • When portaging, re-enter the river at a point well downstream of the boil.

To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and information on boating, boating education and water safety, visit: dwr.virginia.gov/boating. DWR also urges taking a boating safety education course.

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