Memorial Day weekend water safety: Extra law enforcement officers will be on the water
6:11 AM, May 24, 2013
1:16 PM, May 24, 2013
RIVIERA BEACH, Fla.--The Memorial Day weekend marks the kick-off of the summer boating season, according to officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
FWC agents expect a lot of traffic on the water for the holiday weekend, and will have extra patrols on the water to make sure people are boating safely.
Marine units with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Riviera Beach Police Department will also be closely monitoring the waterways, specifically near Peanut Island, along the Intracoastal Waterway and along off shore.
According to officials with PBSO, marine patrols will be in marked and un-marked boats. They say they typically see an increase in disturbances, alcohol-related crimes and boating infractions during this time period.
FWC agents will be keeping a close eye on boaters as well. Agents say they'll be making sure the registration stickers of boat operators are up to date, that kids are in life vests and that boat operators abide by the proper speed limits.
The biggest issue FWC agents say they see during big holiday weekends is that boaters don't pay attention to their duties, and are distracted by all the activity on the water. Agents say it's especially important to pay attention when you're around areas like Peanut Island, where there is so much activity on the weekends.
Mandy Phillips, a public information officer with FWC, says "If each boat can hold four to five people, you're looking at mass quantities of people. So you maybe have to have somebody help you watch and have a proper lookout. Make sure you around before you put your boat in gear so your propeller doesn't hit people."
Phillips says boaters get so excited about heading out on the water that they forget to check their safety gear before putting their boat in the water.
"People don't think about going in and pulling all their safety gear out and checking it and whatever else," Phillips says, "They're just excited to get on the boat and go. So everyone goes and prepares their cooler and prepares their lunch and prepares everything else, but they don't necessarily go in and prepare their safety gear and that's what you need if something goes bad."