News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR Urges Citizens to Practice Water Safety

Annapolis, Md. (June 3, 2011) – In the wake of a recent series of tragic incidents, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging Marylanders and visitors to be extra vigilant on the water this summer.

“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities our State has to offer on water and land to the fullest, but safety is our utmost concern,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We are asking everyone to research their activities, the areas they are visiting and use the expertise of our Maryland Park Service staff and Natural Resources Police officers to remain as safe as possible.”

NRP responded to three drowning incidents and two fatal boating accidents over Memorial Day weekend.

“The losses we experienced over Memorial Day weekend were tragic, and unusual so early in the season,” said NRP Superintendent Colonel George F. Johnson IV. “The importance of safety while boating and swimming can not be overstated and must be a number one priority while enjoying Maryland waterways and State Parks.”

NRP recommends that swimmers stay within designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty whenever possible. Lifeguards keep all swimmers informed of any changes in water conditions and are trained to respond if an emergency occurs.

NRP also offers the following swimming safety tips:

  • When swimming outside guarded areas obey all warning signs that alert swimmers to dangers and be aware of any surrounding signs or markers that indicate current water conditions.
  • Never swim alone or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Pay special attention to small children and use safety devices such as life jackets on children or other individuals who can not swim.
  • Carry a cell phone or have other ways of contacting emergency personnel if a situation arises.

If an emergency occurs, immediately call 911 and remember to Reach, Throw, Row and Go:

REACH the person in trouble by extending a releasable item, such as a pole, line or rope to pull them to safety, but not by hand as the rescuer could quickly become another victim.

THROW an object that floats to the victim if they are unreachable. A life ring, PFD, cooler or plastic jug is suitable floating objects that can keep a troubled swimmer afloat until rescues arrive.

ROW to the victim, using a canoe or any other safe watercraft. The rescuer must wear a life jacket. Once the victim is nearby, a rope or paddle should be extended and used to tow the victim to shore if possible.

GO to the victim by entering the water as a last resort and ONLY if properly trained. The rescuer should bring an object to keep the victim afloat and to prevent being pulled under.

   June 3, 2011

Contact: Sgt. A.A. Windemuth
410-260-8003 office | 410-713-8449 cell

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 is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages a half-million 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