Dept. of Wildlife Resources shares safety tips ahead of boating season

As you prepare to take your boat out on the James River, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources wants to make sure you have a safe experience on the wate
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - As the sunshine and warmth bring boaters out to Osborne Landing in Henrico County, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources wants to make sure people stay safe out on the water.

“Memorial Day weekend is typically kind of the kickoff to boating season in Virginia,” said Officer Justin Hall with Virginia Conservation Police.

Boaters head out on the James River.
Boaters head out on the James River.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

In 2021, the department said there were 89 reported boating incidents, which resulted in 47 injuries and 19 fatalities. In 84 percent of the fatal incidents, no life jacket was worn.

Before you head out on the waters, Virginia Conservation Police want to ensure you have your personal safety equipment, including a life jacket. Hall said you might also need a throwable flotation device, which can be thrown to somebody in the water, and a fire extinguisher.

As you make your way out on the water, authorities want to make sure you map out your route and drive responsibly.

“Operation of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs we enforce exactly the same as the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Hall said.

Hall also urges people to check the weather forecast.

“When you’re out on the water, storms can pop up very quickly,” Hall said. “People need to make sure they’re staying hydrated.”

Authorities want to make sure people become familiar with the tide schedule, which could affect your plans on the water.

“It can leave you stranded in an area where you’ve gone out during a certain tide, and the tide drops, and you can be stranded somewhere where there is not enough water to get your vessel out,” Hall said. “Again, that weather is going to play a part; being stranded on a hot day when you’re not able to get away from where you are is an unfortunate event.”

Virginia Conservation Police will be out on the waters looking for people driving recklessly or under the influence.

They will also conduct compliance checks with boaters to make sure they have their safety equipment.

Virginia Conservation Police check in with boaters on the James River.
Virginia Conservation Police check in with boaters on the James River.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

“We just want everyone to enjoy boating and enjoy the waters of Virginia as safely as possible,” Hall said.

Hall also said anyone who is operating a vessel that is 10 horsepower or more needs to take a boater safety course in Virginia. To find boating safety tips, you can click here.

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