EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Although the Fourth of July weekend will look a little different than we’re used to, the weather will allow for boat owners to get out on the water.
On average, Indiana Conservation Officers say 50 people will drown during the summer, a portion of those involving boating accidents.
”Probably the most important thing you could do is have a life jacket,” Joe Haywood, Indiana Conservation Officer said. “We require everybody on board to have a wearable life jacket. I’ve worked 17 years - I’ve never worked a drowning that they had a life jacket on, but I worked a lot where they didn’t.”
Now although encouraged, those life jackets don’t need to be physically worn by adults on board the boat, but children 13 or under do need to wear a life jacket at all times.
”Other things - just checking the weather, just simple common sense things,” Haywood said. “Making sure your boat is in good working order and that you have the safety gear that you need.”
As of last week, conservation officers say the district has responded to or investigated three different drownings within the last three weeks.
”What we encourage in our boating education classes is do a pre-boat plan,” Haywood said. “Let someone know where you’re going, what time you expect to be back and that way if there is an emergency or something and they do call us we have a good idea of where you’re going to be.”
With the Fourth of July usually bringing more boating activity on the waters, conservation officers say they’ll be making sure everyone is safe on board.
”Registration on a boat, just like a car, has to have a license plate,” Haywood said. “A boat has to be registered since it’s a motor boat on public waters. We’re looking for moving violations, so if there are people riding on the sides of the bats. Inland waters we’re looking for speeding violations, where it’s night time speed maybe idle speed zones, ten mile per hour speed zones. Those are all reasons we’ll stop a boat.”
The conservation officers also say if they do stop you, they’ll make sure those life jackets are on board and the operator of the boat is sober.