Boaters urged to boat safe this holiday weekend

(Chronicle file photo)

New Mexico State Parks Marine Enforcement officers are gearing up for Operation Dry Water which begins Friday, June 30 – July 2. Operation Dry Water weekend is held annually close to the Fourth of July holiday, a holiday known for increased boaters on the waters and in which alcohol use is prevalent, as are subsequent boating accidents and fatalities.  

Park officials are reminding boaters to make safety their priority as they prepare to head out for a fantastic weekend on the water!  We are expecting an increase in visitation and recreational boating activities at lake parks during this Independence Day holiday weekend. 
  
To have a safe, enjoyable, boating or fishing trip this weekend, state park officials recommend following these simple tips:

  • Wear your lifejacket!  Once you’re in the water it’s too late! Lifejackets save lives!
  • Never boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol–impairment on the water is deadly!
  • Avoid placing passengers in danger by overloading your boat–refer to your vessel’s capacity plate.
  • Minimize your movement in the vessel. Capsizing, sinking or falling overboard for small boats accounts for more than 70% of all boating fatalities.
  • Know the weather forecast. Weather conditions can change rapidly and defeat your operator skills and vessel’s capabilities!
  • Tell someone where you are going, when you plan to return and update them on your plan as it changes; or file a float plan at the local marina or park office.
  • Make sure you have a way to call for assistance–marine radios and cell phones are good options.
  • In the event of an emergency, if possible, try and stay with your vessel because rescuers will look for you there first.

The New Mexico State Parks Division offers FREE boating safety classes around the state and online throughout the year. State law requires that you wear a lifejacket when on a canoe, kayak, or raft and that all children 12 years old and younger wear a lifejacket while on the deck of a moving vessel.
 
Experience adventure at YOUR state parks!  For more information, call 888-NMPARKS,nmparks.com or visit www.boatnm.com.