Department of Wildlife Resources shares safety tips ahead of boating season

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) – As sunshine and warmth bring boaters to Osborne Landing in Henrico County, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources wants to make sure people stay safe on the water.

“Memorial Day weekend is usually kind of the kickoff to boating season in Virginia,” said Virginia Conservation Police Officer Justin Hall.

Boaters leave on the James River.(Source; NBC12 | NBC12)

In 2021, the department said there were 89 reported boating incidents, which resulted in 47 injuries and 19 deaths. In 84% of fatal incidents, no lifejacket was worn.

Before heading out on the waters, the Virginia Conservation Police want to make sure you have your personal safety equipment, including a life jacket. Hall said you might also need a disposable flotation device, which can be thrown at someone in the water, and a fire extinguisher.

When you’re navigating water, authorities want to make sure you’re planning your route and driving responsibly.

“Operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we apply exactly the same as operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Hall said. .

Hall also urges people to check the weather forecast.

“When you’re on the water, storms can appear very quickly,” Hall said. “People need to make sure they stay hydrated.”

Authorities want to make sure people are familiar with the tide schedule, which could affect your plans on the water.

“It can leave you stuck in an area where you’ve been out for a certain tide, and the tide goes out, and you can get stuck somewhere where there’s not enough water to get your ship out,” Hall said. . “Again, this weather is going to play a role; being stuck on a hot day when you can’t get away from where you are is an unfortunate event.

Virginia Conservation Police will be on the waters looking for anyone driving recklessly or under the influence.

They will also conduct compliance checks with boaters to ensure they have their safety equipment.

Virginia Conservation Police check in with boaters on the James River.
Virginia Conservation Police check in with boaters on the James River.(Source; NBC12 | NBC12)

“We just want everyone to enjoy boating and enjoy Virginia waters in the safest way possible,” Hall said.

Hall also said anyone who operates a vessel of 10 or more horsepower must complete a boater’s safety course in Virginia. To find boating safety tips, you can click here.

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