MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Memorial Day in South Florida usually means a big boating weekend on the water, if the weather cooperates, and that means heavy enforcement on the high seas for boating safety.
Friday, the Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue kicked off National Safe Boating Week ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
National Safe Boating Week marks the informal beginning of summer and Coast Guard crews throughout Florida will be on patrol, paying particular attention to recreational boating safety.
“With all of us coming together including the boating public, we can make Florida’s waterways safer and safer every year,” said FWC spokesman Jorge Pino.
This year’s safety campaign, “Ready, Set, Wear It,” is designed to encourage boaters to use life jackets and proper safety equipment.
“Our main emergencies that we encounter out on the water are due to traumatic injuries, and to dehydration and to alcohol poisoning emergencies,” explained Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita.
Statistics show 90-percent of fatalities on the water are people who were not wearing a life jacket. In Florida, drinking while boating is a big problem that maritime law enforcement officers want the boating public to be aware of.
“Unfortunately people die every year as a direct result of people consuming alcohol and operating a vessel while intoxicated,” said Pino.
That’s why officers say is it’s important to appoint a sober skipper.
Maritime officers in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are adding a new high-tech safety tool to their enforcement efforts this year. It’s a laser range finder which can detect whether or not boaters are staying 300 feet away from divers.
“By using technology, this tool right here, if we can avoid somebody from getting killed, I think we’ve done our job,” said Pino.
Boaters can be fined $90 for coming too close to a diver. In addition, officers will be undercover while using the laser range finders
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