News from the DNR Office of Communications

NRP Reminds Boaters To Be Safe This Holiday Weekend

Annapolis, Md. (May 24, 2010) – 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) advises boaters, park patrons and users of Maryland’s great natural resources to exercise caution this summer and throughout the year. To promote safety, NRP will be conducting an extensive statewide enforcement effort during the Memorial Day weekend.

“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, we urge citizens to make safety a number one priority while enjoying Maryland waterways and parks.”

NRP will be educating boaters on a new law that was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on April 13, effective immediately, that requires children under 13 to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while aboard a vessel under 21 feet in length. This legislation helps in protecting children while on the states waterways.

The Natural Resources Police will aggressively target boaters operating in a reckless or negligent manner and/or under the influence of alcohol on the waterways. They will also focus on boaters not maintaining a proper lookout and not having the required safety equipment onboard.

Last year, Maryland had 16 fatal accidents, resulting in 17 deaths, up from a 5-year average of 12 fatal accidents. NRP reports that 16 of the 17 victims were not wearing life vests and stresses that wearing a life jacket could be the single most important factor in preventing boating deaths. Alcohol and drugs were a contributing factor in 7 of the fatal boating accidents.

NRP responded to 299 boating accidents last year. Two-hundred and two of these accidents resulted in injuries that required treatment more than first aid and/or had damages to the vessels in excess of $2,000.

Boaters should use good judgment and take precautions before they depart from the dock. Boaters can help ensure their safety and the safety of others by remembering the acronym “SAFE”;

• S – Survey or examine your vessel’s hull, engine and navigational equipment for serviceability. Ensure the hull is sound and free of cracks, holes and defects. Inspect your vessel’s engine performance. Take it to a certified mechanic to ensure the engine is operating properly. Survey and examine all navigational lights, communication, radar, GPS and other electronic equipment to ensure that they are functioning properly.
• A – Anticipate the needs of the trip prior to leaving the dock. Ensure fuel, clothing, and medical needs are met during the trip. Plan for unexpected events like severe weather or sudden storms.
• F – File a float plan with a friend or relative. Tell someone where you are going, how long you plan to stay, and when you expect to return. This is vital information for rescuers searching for lost or overdue boaters.
• E – Equipment. Ensure that all safety equipment is in good condition and sufficient quantity for the people on board the vessel. Basic equipment includes correct size and quantity of life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals (flares etc), and sound producing devices such as a whistle or horn.

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.

Additional emphasis will be placed on conserving Maryland’s natural resources. Officers will concentrate on possession and size limits of the fisheries resources through out the state this Memorial Day weekend.

For more information on safe boating in Maryland, visit the DNR website: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/boating/.


   May 24, 2010

Contact: Sgt. A.A. Windemuth
410-260-8003 office | 410-713-8449 cell
awindemuth@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Natural Resources Police is the enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 247 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), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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 12 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