Boaters Urged to Take Extra Precautions During Fourth of July Holiday

The Fourth of July week is expected to be one of the busiest boating periods of the year according to the Alabama Department of Conservation’s Marine Police Division.  Alabama’s waterways will be crowded with people enjoying camping, boating, fishing, water-skiing and the very popular fireworks displays presented throughout the state.

Lt. Erica Shipman of the Marine Police Division reminds people using the waterways and viewing the fireworks from their boats to make certain they have all the following safety equipment on board before they depart from shore:

1.   Current registration for boat or personal watercraft

2.   A vessel operator’s license

3.   A wearable US Coast Guard approved personal floatation device for every person on board. All PFD’s must be sized to fit and accessible. Also, a child under 8 years old must wear a PFD at all times when aboard the vessel, except when in an enclosed cabin area. Boats 16 feet or longer are required to have a Type IV throwable device in addition to the wearable PFD’s.

4.   Boats 16 feet and longer are also required to have a sound-producing device such as a whistle or horn.

5.   Boats less than 24 feet in length, powered with more than 50 horsepower need to have a lanyard type emergency cut-off switch. This must be attached to the operator when the boat is underway.

6.   A fully charged fire extinguisher

Boaters operating after sunset are required to display the proper navigation lights: red and green lights on the bow of the boat, and a white light on the stern of the boat which should be visible for a 360 degree area.  Marine Police officers also remind nighttime boaters to carry extra bulbs for their navigation

lights and a flashlight in case of emergencies.  If an emergency does occur, boaters can contact the Marine Police through the County Sheriff’s Office or through the nearest State Trooper’s office.

“The Fourth of July weekend will be one of the busiest weekends of the year,” states Lt. Shipman, “therefore our Marine Police officers will be out in force, especially in high traffic areas and at fireworks displays.” Shipman also reminds boaters not to drink and drive. “Our officers will be on the lookout for reckless operators and boaters operating under the influence of alcohol,” she added

Finally, Marine Police officials urge boaters to keep a sharp lookout on the weather as well as the congested waterways this weekend.  Due to the heavy amounts of rainfall that have occurred recently waterways and impoundments may be flooded and water may be running more swiftly than usual on the river systems.  Marine Police officials urge extra caution when boating or fishing near dams and spillways.  “We want all the boaters of Alabama to have a safe, accident-free Fourth of July.  We urge them to check the weather forecasts before going out, and be courteous to fellow boaters so everyone can enjoy the beautiful waterways of Alabama,” said Shipman.

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