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Maryland Natural Resources Police Remind Boaters To Be Safe This Holiday Weekend
ANNAPOLIS – As Marylanders prepare to take to the state’s waterways and parks this Memorial Day weekend for the traditional start of the summer season, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) urge boaters and park patrons alike to exercise caution this summer. And to further ensure their safety, NRP will be conducting an extensive statewide enforcement effort this holiday weekend entitled Operation First Light.
Operation First Light will aggressively target boaters operating in a reckless or negligent manner and/or under the influence of alcohol on the waterways. It will also focus on boaters not maintaining a proper lookout and not having the required safety equipment onboard.
Meanwhile, patrols in the parks and forests will focus on picnic areas, pavilions, campgrounds, and waterfront areas for alcohol consumption, and will educate the public as to where these types of beverages are permitted. Patrols will also focus on underage alcohol possession and individuals driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Memorial Day is generally considered to be the official beginning of the boating and camping season in Maryland,” said Colonel George F. Johnson IV, Superintendent of the NRP. “During the busy Memorial Day weekend, the Maryland Natural Resources Police urges citizens to enjoy Maryland waterways and parks judiciously, safely and courteously.”
NRP also recommends that boaters continue to use common sense and take extra precautions during this busy holiday weekend. Boaters can help ensure their safety and the safety of others enjoying Maryland’s waterways by:
- Wearing an approved and properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) at all times while aboard. Nationwide, approximately 700 people drown each year from recreational boating accidents; it is imperative to wear a PFD at all times while on the water.
- Knowing and obeying navigation rules, operating at a safe speed and maintaining a proper lookout.
- Staying in control of your vessel and respecting the rights of others enjoying the waterways.
- Ensuring that your boat is never overloaded.
- Leaving a float plan with someone at home describing where you are going, who you are with, and when you expect to return.
- Remaining sober and alert – remember the use of alcohol contributes to accidents on the water.
During 2006, some of the leading causes of boating accidents in Maryland were the result of negligent and/or reckless operation, weather, excessive speed and operator inexperience. There were eight boat accident fatalities on Maryland’s waterways last year, five of which were the result of capsizing or falls overboard.
For more information on safe boating in Maryland, visit the DNR website: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/boating/.
May 24, 2007
The Maryland Natural Resources Police is the 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 NRP 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 (DNR) 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 18,000 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 www.dnr.maryland.gov