Expert shares boating safety tips for Memorial Day weekend

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:46 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA COUNTY (WRDW/WAGT) - Law enforcement around the two-state are ramping up preparations for Memorial Day weekend.

They’re expecting this weekend to be one of the busiest they’ve seen so far. They’re sharing some safety tips and showing us some new technology they can use in emergencies.

For DNR on both sides of the river, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the boating season.

“The patrols are increased. It’s all hands on deck for Memorial Day,” said Bobby Timmerman, Georiga DNR.

Georgia DNR is prepping patrol boats as they expect a busy weekend ahead.

“We actually have some guys coming from other parts of the state to help us patrol this year,” he said.

It may sound like a broken record, but they’re stressing safety. Don’t drink and drive the boat, watch your speed, and wear a life jacket.

“Whether it’s a powerboat, whether it’s a stand-up paddleboard, a kayak, or canoe, if you’re under the age of 13 in the state of Georgia you have to wear that,” said Timmerman.

This time last year, we saw a record number of drownings across the CSRA. National data shows that 76% of deaths related to boating drowned. 84.5% of deaths that drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

“It’s like a seatbelt in a car. If you don’t have it on it’s not going to help you,” he said.

A new technology called a Side-Scan Sonar Kit is helping DNR in both states during emergencies.

“It allows officers to quickly scan a large body of water while doing search and recovery. It greatly enhances their ability to quickly find people,” said Timmerman.

S.C. DNR is asking families to make a safety checklist before hitting the water.

“If you don’t think about safety then bad things happen,” he said.

At the end of the weekend, they hope the kit will never be opened.

“We just want to make sure that everyone that does come out and enjoy the lake gets home in a safe manner,” he said.

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