Boat safe, smart, and sober …
The countdown to Memorial Day Weekend is underway.
Not only does the upcoming holiday mark the traditional beginning of the summer boating season on Grand and Hudson lakes, but it will also be one of the busiest weekends for boat traffic.
As thousands of lake enthusiasts soon return to the waters, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department is taking the opportunity to remind them to “Boat Safe, Boat Smart and Boat Sober” all summer long.
“The long holiday weekend is always a great time to visit Grand or Hudson lakes,” said GRDA Corporate Spokesperson Justin Alberty. “But as everyone prepares for that time on the water, we want to remind them to boat safe, smart and sober, and keep a lookout for other boaters, as we do expect large crowds.”
Alberty added that GRDA is also joining with the National Safe Boating Council to recognize May 20 – 26 as National Safe Boating Week.
The week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort that encourages boaters to make the most of their boating adventure by being responsible.
Of course, safe, and responsible boating always begins with proper life jacket use.
According to statistics from the United States Coast Guard, drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2021 (latest data available) and 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
That is why the GRDA Police continue to stress the importance of life jackets all year-round.
As you head to the water for Memorial Day weekend, or anytime, please keep these tips in mind:
- Buy your own personal life jacket. One size DOES NOT fit all.
- Look at the label. It will provide the weight, size, and proper use information.
- Try it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head or come down above your ears.
- Teach your child how to put on their own life jacket.
- Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child – it should not be something they “grow in to.” The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all the straps fastened.
- Never use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.
- Check your life jacket yearly for flotation and fit and make sure it is still in good condition, with no rips or tears.
- Finally, wear your life jacket to increase your chance of survival in an accident and to set a good example for others.
Meanwhile, smart boating happens when boaters are acquainted with the vessel they will be operating and the area they will be visiting on the water.
With that in mind, GRDA also offers the following smart boating tips:
- DO know the water and environment you will be boating on.
- DO keep a good lookout while underway.
- DO shut your engines off when people are in the water near your boat.
- DO observe the nautical “rules of the road.”
- DO check the weather forecast before getting underway.
- DO keep a balanced load and a trim boat.
- DON’T overload your boat.
- DON’T ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or any other place that is not designed for sitting.
- DO have a float plan. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Finally, GRDA Police continue to stress the importance of boating sober.
According to statistics from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), alcohol use is a contributing factor in a third of all recreational boating fatalities.
Alcohol use can affect a boat operator’s judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. These impairments then increase the likelihood of accidents for both passengers and operators. USCG data shows that in boating deaths involving alcohol use, over half the victims capsized their boats and/or fell overboard.
If you have an emergency and need immediate assistance while on the water, the GRDA Police encourages you to dial 911. The department’s non-emergency number is (918) 256 0911.