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Maine Marine Patrol Highlights Boating Safety Heading into Memorial Day Weekend

May 18 to 24 is National Safe Boating Week, and the Maine Marine Patrol wants to remind recreational boaters to stay safe while enjoying Maine’s waters.

“This summer, thousands of boaters will spend time with friends and family on Maine’s coastal waters, rivers and lakes,” said Maine Marine Patrol Pilot Steve Ingram. “As we head into Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the boating season, we want to remind people about safe boating practices.”

An important safety issue to consider is drinking and boating. According to the Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading contributing factor in deadly boating accidents last summer.

“People should be aware that the Marine Patrol and Warden Service have zero tolerance for boating under the influence,” explained Ingram.

“Boaters under the influence are just like motorists under the influence – and we are going to prosecute those people who make the waters unsafe for the rest of us,” adds Col. Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service.

In Maine, all children 10 and under must wear a life jacket. Adults don’t have to wear them but they must be available on board for every occupant.

"Life jackets do save lives,” said Ingram. “If you end up in the water unconscious for some reason, a properly-fitting life jacket will keep you afloat.

“And always make sure you have proper safety equipment on your boat,” added Ingram.

“In addition to life jackets, safe boaters should have working navigation lights, visual distress signals, sound signalling devices, VHF radio, cell phone, proper ventilation, and properly displayed registration numbers. Boaters should be sure to file a float plan with a friend or relative. “It’s important to let someone know where you are going and your approximate time of return,” said Ingram. “Always make sure you check the local marine forecast before heading out on Maine’s coastal waters.

“The Marine Patrol and Warden Service will be out in full force this weekend working to make sure boaters enjoy a safe weekend on Maine’s coastal and inland waters.”

For more information on recreational boating safety, visit the Maine Department of Marine Resources website at http://www.maine.gov/dmr/safety/recboat.htm.