BREWERTON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With the forecast heating up and Memorial Day on Monday, people will likely be spending the weekend on their boats. But before you head out on the water, the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office is urging you to be safe.
It’s National Boater Safety Week and sheriff deputies across the state are stressing boating safety. Whether you plan on spending the holiday weekend on Oneida Lake or somewhere else on the water, there are some things you need to know before you set sail. It all starts with wearing a life jacket.
“Life jackets are the single most important safety item. You want to have life jackets readily accessible and on the boat. Its required for everyone on a boat to have one. We recommend that everyone wears it,” says Sgt. Jim McKenna, navigation supervisor for the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office.
Surviving an accident on the water all boils down to wearing a life jacket. A majority of people who don’t wear one drown. During 2021, there were 192 boating accidents resulting in 118 injuries and 18 deaths on New York State waterways. This was a significant decrease compared to 2020. The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office reported the first deadly boat accident this season.
“People went out on the canoe, the canoe tipped over. They were inexperienced boaters which we see a lot. They didn’t have any safety equipment and they weren’t wearing life jackets, and unfortunately one of the two drowned,” says Sgt. McKenna.
Another real concern is speeding.
“Generally, in Onondaga County, it’s 10 miles an hour. On lakes where there’s no speed limit, it’s still 5 miles an hour when you’re hundred feet from shore or a hundred feet from other boats,” says Sgt. McKenna.
Sheriff Deputies will be enforcing that speed limit.
“Depending on the actions it could be as severe as reckless operation which is a misdemeanor. You can be arrested for that or it could be just a simple speeding citation or warning depending on the circumstances,” says Sgt. McKenna.
Another thing to keep in mind is the use of alcohol. Although it’s allowed while boating, deputies say to drink responsibly. Deputies also urge boaters to make sure everything on their boat is working properly.