BALTIMORE — After three boating fatalities occurred in Maryland this month, Maryland Natural Resources Police are sharing safety tips with boaters to try to prevent further deaths.
The state has seen six fatal boating incidents so far within 2022, the same number that occurred throughout both 2020 and 2021. The most recent include a July 3 hit-and-run collision that killed a 63-year-old woman on the Magothy River, a July 6 accident on the Elk River involving a boat striking the navigation aid that killed a 39-year-old and a July 10 overturned boat incident that left the 37-year-old man dead.
Natural Resources Police Sgt. Gregory Certeza said that the agency has increased patrols in Maryland waterways for the summer season and holiday weekends, in order to make sure people are usually following laws and staying safe.
He said inexperience, inattention, excessive speed, drinking while boating and not wearing a life jacket are some of the primary causes of accidents.
“Most of the fatalities were a result of not having a PFD (personal flotation device), I think 70% of the particular drownings could have been avoided by wearing a life preserver, ” said Certeza.
Part of the reason for the increase is likely because of the increased interest in recreational boating after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“More people have been enjoying the water, buying boats… of course when there’s more people on the particular water, there tends to be more accidents, ” he said.
Certeza urged boaters to make sure they carry one wearable life jacket (Type I, II, III, or V) for each person on board as required, to be aware of what is around the boat, and to not drive a boat whilst distracted.
“People on their cell phones, talking to other people on the boat while they are operating, they tend not to pay attention to their surroundings, ” he stated.
Having a GPS is also helpful to avoid hitting navigation aids that are usually not lit at night, especially for boaters going through unfamiliar areas.
“GPSs or chart plotters, they’ll have the particular navigational aids in the program so you can it on your vessel, where these aids are and how to avoid them. ”
While not required with regard to boaters born before July 1, 1972, Natural Sources Police also recommend taking a boater safety course. They also urge carrying at least one fire extinguisher that is readily accessible, per Coast Guard rules, and filing a float plan with a friend in order to let them know where you are going and when you will be back.
You can find more boating safety tips for boating at dnr. maryland. gov .