TPWD Reminds Boaters to be Safe During National Safe Boating Week

 

AUSTIN, TX – As part of National Safe Boating Week May 19-25, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) boater education and law enforcement staff are reminding Texans to be safe this Memorial Day weekend and all summer long by following the law and taking basic safety precautions while on the water.

In 2017, 45 boating fatalities occurred on Texas waters, an increase of more than 28 percent from 2016. On top of that, marine enforcement officers logged 172 boating accidents and 83 boating related injuries. While boating fatalities and accidents can be caused by a variety of circumstances, surviving an accident on the water boils down to one important precaution – wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD).

“Wearing a life jacket is the most important strategy boaters can take to stay safe on the water,” said Tim Spice, TPWD Boater Education Manager. “The overwhelming majority of boating fatalities are caused by drowning and most of those drowning victims are recovered without a life jacket.”

“It’s not enough to just have a life jacket on board – people need to wear it,” Spice added. “Accidents on the water can happen too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket.”

State law requires that a life jacket must be available for each occupant of the boat and children under 13 years of age are mandated to wear one while the boat or paddle craft is underway or drifting. Despite these laws, in Texas last year the number of citations issued for children not wearing a life jacket increased by nearly 12 percent.

“Texas Game Wardens regularly perform vessel safety checks to ensure boat operators and passengers are following the law,” said Cody Jones, TPWD Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “Everyone who will be operating a boat, personal water craft or paddle craft this summer should make sure they are in compliance with all vessel safety requirements before hitting the water.”

Law enforcement will also be on alert for those violating boating under the influence laws. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08 percent is an offense that can lead to fines, the loss of a driver’s license and an increased risk of accidents or fatalities on the water. In 2017, game wardens issued 152 boating under the influence or boating while intoxicated citations across the state.

“Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths,” Jones said. “Not only does it endanger the lives of boat operators and passengers, it endangers the lives of everyone who is outside enjoying Texas lakes and rivers.”

Other boating safety tips to keep in mind this summer include:

Take a boating safety course: Paddlers can find a free online safety course on the TPWD website. For larger vessels, anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, must complete a boater education course to operate a personal watercraft or a boat with a 15-horsepower rating or more. Boater education courses are regularly offered in many locations around the state, or boaters can find a selection of online boater courses that can be taken anytime online.

Learn to swim: The American Red Cross offers swimming lessons by certified instructors across the state.

Use an ignition safety switch: Most boat and personal water crafts come equipped by the manufacturer with an emergency engine cut-off switch. This safety device can shut off the engine if the operator falls off the personal water craft or out of the powerboat, or is otherwise thrown from the proper operating position.

For more information about boating safety, laws and requirements, visit TPWD’s boating laws website.

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Comments

Z Z, Wed, 05/23/2018 - 22:23

I used to love water skiing. I drove by this place where I used to live near a Marina. I had my eye on this little boat but I didn't have enough money to buy it. I kept telling my friend, that boat has my name written all over it. One of these days that little beauty if going to be mine. Sure enough, a few months later I walked up and offered the guy $800 dollars and he took it.

It was a lot of fun because I got to take everyone out with me and we always thought of safety. but it was a sad boat story ending because of the motor on it. It had an old 40 horse Johnson outboard and the housing broke on it. The boat was still good but I didn't feel like paddling it.

That was where I came up with my famous quote, "My boat still float, but my Johnson is broke." I ended up giving it away to some old guy just to get it out of my driveway. but oh what a love affair it was while it lasted. Oh well, maybe I can buy another one some day.

So true... Anyone who has spent a summer on "old nastywater", knows the dangers. I was fishing the same night that they were looking for that young man who'd been knocked off his kayak by the jet skier, a couple years back. Then there was the kid who slipped off the floaty at "the beach" or Mary Lee Park and drowned. Safety is huge when having fun at the lake, it has been life and death before and it remains to be that today, irresponsible brewski consumption is a leading factor.

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