ANNAPOLIS - On the eve of what is hoped will be a safe, enjoyable boating season on Maryland waters, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) today kicked off National Safe Boating Week and Maryland's corresponding observance (May 20-26) to highlight the need for boaters to wear a life jacket at all times while on the water as well as observe other safety precautions.
"The 2006 recreational boating season officially begins tomorrow with the beginning of National Safe Boating Week, and Maryland offers some of the finest recreational boating opportunities in the country," said Col. Mark S. Chaney, NRP Superintendent. "Remember to boat safe, boat sober, boat smart, and wear your life jacket."
NRP officers and boating safety educators demonstrated a variety of activities to reiterate the importance of safe boating by:
* Capsizing a small vessel, one with occupants in life jackets and one without.
* Displaying the ease and convenience of wearing a lifejacket and offering members of the media an opportunity to try on a variety of new lifejackets.
* Exhibiting the proper equipment essential for a safe boating season.
* Offering ride-alongs with NRP as they patrol the Chesapeake Bay.
More than a dozen people die each year in boating-related incidents on Maryland waterways, most of which could have been prevented if a lifejacket had been worn. Last year, there were 14 boat accident fatalities in Maryland, while the total number of injuries was 128. Records show that the majority of accidents are the result of wake, improper lookout, or operator inattention. Additional frequent causes of accidents include negligent/reckless operation, excessive speed and inexperience.
Nationwide, there were 3,363 injuries and 676 fatalities resulting from boating-related accidents in 2004. Approximately 70 percent of all fatalities drowned and 90 percent of those drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.
Maryland law states that anyone born on or after July 1, 1972, must have a certificate of boating safety education while operating any motorized vessel. This certificate must be with the operator of the boat at all times. Boating safety courses are available. More information can be found at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/boating/safety/.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police is an enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 280 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the Natural Resources Police provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at http://www.dnr.Maryland.gov/.