MIAMI (CBSMiami) – If your July 4th holiday plans call for spending some time on the water, the U.S. Coast Guard urges you to play it safe.
Various law enforcement agencies will be conducting safety inspections and boaters shouldn’t be surprised they are stopped for a routine check.READ MORE: February Trial Scheduled In Florida 'Don't Say Gay' Law Fight
One of the most important pieces of safety equipment that should be aboard every vessel is the life jacket. Everyone needs to have a life jacket. Children under the age of six are required to wear them.
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. That’s why officers will also be conducting “boating under the influence checks.”
Intoxicated boaters can face both federal and state charges with penalties of up to one year in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.READ MORE: Davie Man Claims Million Dollar Prize In Florida Lottery Scratch Off Game
The Miami-Dade Police Department’s Marine Patrol Unit will be conducting a three-day Boating Under the Influence (BUI) initiative to keep the coastal waterways safer during the holiday weekend. The initiative will take place on Thursday, July 4, Saturday, July 6, and Sunday July 7, from 7 a.m. through 12 a.m.
Boaters are also urged to stay alert for dive flags. They can be fined for coming too close to a diver.
In past years, a combination of this increased traffic on the water and boaters traveling at high speeds has resulted in deaths and serious injuries.
In light of that, the Coast Guard is asking all boaters to take extra caution and heed all slow speed or no wake areas.MORE NEWS: There's No Business Like Shoe Business & The High End Sneaker Business Is Booming
The Coast Guard also reminds boaters not to use emergency flares as celebratory fireworks. Flares should only be used in times of distress.