PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) joins partners across the U.S. and Canada to kick off National Safe Boating Week on Saturday, May 20 – as part of the North American Wear It! Campaign.
As part of the week's festivities, DEM Environmental Police Officers will increase water patrols and conduct boating safety inspections and provide information on boating safety in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary who have events planned around the state.
WHAT: Vessel Safety Check Stations and Information Booths WHEN: Saturday, May 20, 2017 – 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. WHERE: Oakland Beach Boat Ramp, Oakland Beach Avenue, Warwick Greenwich Bay Marina, 252 Second Point Road, Warwick Cove Haven Marina, 101 Narragansett Avenue, Barrington
WHAT: Boating Safety Display and Information Booth WHEN: Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. WHERE: Quonset Air Show, Quonset Point, North Kingstown
WHAT: Boating Safety Awareness Day WHEN: Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. WHERE: West Marine, 339 Bald Hill Road, Warwick
WHAT: Vessel Safety Check WHEN: Sunday, May 21, 2017 – 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. WHERE: Lighthouse Marina, 110 Shore Drive, Barrington
WHAT: Vessel Safety Check Stations and Information Booths WHEN: Saturday, May 27, 2017 – 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. WHERE: Wallum Lake Boat Ramp, 107 Wallum Lake Road, Douglas, MA Bristol Yacht Club, 101 Poppasquash Road, Bristol
"The key to safe boating is the life jacket," said Lieutenant Steven Criscione, boating safety coordinator for DEM's Division of Law Enforcement. "A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket, but will drown without one. There is no time to put a life jacket on before a boating accident – no different than attempting to buckle your seat belt before a car crash."
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 2016 saw an alarming increase in fatalities of canoeists and kayakers. In District One which covers from New Jersey to Maine, there were 49 deaths reported with 29 of these deaths being canoeists and kayakers. Among these paddlecraft deaths, over 80 percent drowned and were not wearing a life jacket. All operators of paddlecraft including stand-up paddleboards, canoes and kayaks are required to have a lifejacket readily available; boating safety advocates recommend that all paddleboard users, boaters, and passengers 'Wear It!' at all times while on the water.
Important Reminders • Children under 13 years old must wear an approved life jacket on recreational craft unless they are below deck or in an enclosed cabin. • Make sure life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved. • Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your favorite water activities. Today, life jackets are stylish, versatile, comfortable and lightweight. New technology allows many to inflate automatically when immersed in water. • Take the time to ensure a proper fit. A life jacket that is too large or too small can be hazardous. • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your child to "grow into."
For more information on boating in Rhode Island, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM for timely updates.