National Boating Safety Week arrived in time for the unofficial kick off to summer this Memorial Day weekend.
For John Walsh, it will mark his first trip of the year on his 40-year-old boat.
"Hoping to do a little bit of fishing," Walsh said. "It's beautiful out there. It's a good place to reflect."
At Oak Leaf Marina in Old Saybrook, they're busy catching up and getting boats in the water.
"We take almost four months to take boats out of the water and get them into storage," said Scott Massee, Oak Leaf Marina. "April 1 starts the beginning of launching season. Most of that has to be finished by Memorial Day. Losing three or four weeks to some unpleasant weather in April sort of crams it into getting all done in the month of May."
One of the things that officials with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are really stressing this year is that people put stickers on their boats, with their name and phone number, in case it gets loose and drifts off. That way DEEP can easily find the owner.
Officials said boat owners should go through an equipment checklist every time before they take the boat out. It's to not only making sure they have all the proper gear, but ensure that it’s all working as well.
"Make sure they are current on their safety gear, their life jackets, their flares," Massee said. "[And] their flares, make sure they inspect their systems."
They said every boat should have enough life jackets for everyone onboard, a whistle, flares and a fire extinguisher.
Officials said 90 percent of boating deaths are because of drowning and in 80 percent of those cases, the people were not wearing a life jacket.
There is also a new law this year. If a boater is towing someone behind the boat who is using a tube or water skis, that operator now needs to designate a person on board to be an observer.
"A lot of times a small log floating on the top of the river is much larger under the water," Massee said. "So use a lot of caution and be careful because there is a lot of stuff in the river."
Officials said education can be the difference between life and death. Any type of boat that has a motor on it needs to be registered, and boaters need to be certified.
There’s an 8 hour course that DEEP and other agencies teach that boat owners need to pass. Once it’s completed, they need to pay a $50 fee. They can then operate a boat. It’s a one-time "fee for life" to get a boating certificate.
“Boating certificates are important because national statics show that education reduces accidents," said Mark Chanski, DEEP. "Knowing what to do in an emergency, knowing what safety gear to take along with you, knowing the proper rules of navigation.”
Officials are also reminding people about drinking and boating.
They said they'll be out in full force again this summer cracking down and making sure the water is safe for everyone.
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