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BoatSafety2July 1, 2019 - The Westchester County Police Marine Unit will have an increased presence on the Hudson River on July 4 and during the holiday weekend to ensure boater safety and to participate in a nationwide Boating While Intoxicated enforcement campaign.

County Executive George Latimer joined Marine Unit personnel at the Tarrytown Marina today to encourage all recreational boaters to review safety protocols, ensure their vessels are seaworthy and check that all legally required safety equipment is on board, including Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs).

“Once school lets out at the end of June, the Marine Unit sees a significant increase in pleasure boats on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound,” Latimer said. “We want our residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty of our waterways while keeping safety as their top priority. Be prepared should an emergency arise and remember that you are sharing the water with other boats, kayaks, personal watercraft such as Jet-Skis and swimmers.”

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said the Marine Unit is participating this week in Operation Dry Water, a national enforcement effort aimed at combatting Boating While Intoxicated laws. Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boating-related deaths and accidents, according to federal statistics.

“Operating a boat or personal watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a crime,” Gleason said. “Just as we enforce DWI laws on land, we have zero tolerance for BWI offenses on our waterways.”

He suggested that all boats have a “designated driver” who is not drinking or that boaters hold off on consuming alcohol until they are back at the marina or on shore.

The Marine Unit offers the following tips to help ensure a safe and pleasant boating season on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound.

Before heading out on the water:

  • Take a boating safety course. Boater inexperience is responsible for a large number of accidents and emergencies on the water each summer. By taking a safety course, you will ensure that you are familiar with navigation laws and boating etiquette and will learn what to do in the event of a mechanical failure, accident or other emergency.

  • Make sure the boat you are using is safe. The Westchester County Police Marine Unit and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary offer free vessel inspections to help boat owners meet this goal.

  • Be sure the boat has the legally required safety equipment aboard. The required items include: Personal Flotation Devices (one for every person on board), throw rings, visual and audible distress devices, fire extinguishers, an anchor and navigation and anchor lights. Though not legally required, a marine radio and/or a cellular telephone are recommended – it’s the easiest way to call for help in an emergency on the water.

  • Have a float plan and leave it with someone on shore. Be sure that the plan indicates what time you will be leaving, where you will be going and what time you estimate you will return.

  • Check local weather forecasts for marine-related information prior to your departure.

     Once on the water:

  • Children under the age of 12 must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times when aboard a boat of less than 65 feet in length or aboard a Personal Watercraft in New York State.

  • A PFD must be available for every person on board (including in kayaks, canoes and rowboats) and is recommended to be worn on the water by persons of every age. It is estimated that 70 percent of all boating-related deaths could be prevented if PFD’s were more fully utilized.

  • Never operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • In New York, any pleasure vessel, whether propelled in whole or part by mechanical means, must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The operator of the vessel, whether the owner or not, is required to be in possession of the original registration when the vessel is in operation.