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Thursday, February 2, 2023

St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Promotes Boating Safety

With Memorial Day approaching, summer fishing and boating is beginning to kick into high gear on St. Bernard Parish waterways, and St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann and his Marine Division want to remind residents to practice safety while on the water.

Photo Courtesy of S.B.S.O.

From St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office

With Memorial Day approaching, summer fishing and boating is beginning to kick into high gear on St. Bernard Parish waterways, and St. Bernard Sheriff James Pohlmann wants to remind residents to practice safety while on the water. 

“There will be a lot of boats out there, especially on holiday weekends like the Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day so be careful, slow down and learn and obey the rules of boating safety,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said. “Don’t speed and pay attention to your surroundings. Operate with caution.”

The Sheriff also reminds boaters that everyone on board should be wearing a personal flotation device or life jacket. 

“They are available at sporting goods and department stores,” the Sheriff said. “Everyone should be able to find one that fits.’’

With holiday celebrations, also comes the chances of people drinking while operating watercraft.

Sheriff Pohlmann reminds residents people can be arrested for drinking and driving on a boat, just as they would be while operating an automobile on land. 

Alcohol is a primary cause in nearly 25% of all fatal boating accidents nationally, Sheriff Pohlmann said. Statistics also show nearly 90% 

of the boating accidents recorded involve someone who hasn’t successfully completed a safe boating class.

Residents interested in taking a boating course can do so for free. Information can be found on the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site under the education section. Other state-approved safe boating courses can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses.

Capt. Brian Clark, a retired state Wildlife and Fisheries agent who heads the Sheriff’s Office Marine Division, agrees with Sheriff Pohlmann about the necessity of everyone on board wearing flotation devices, especially children. 

“It’s required that children 17 and under wear a flotation device at all times when a boat is in motion and recommended that adults wear them also,’’ Clark said. Drowning remains the biggest cause of fatalities on the water and a life jacket being worn could save a life, he added.

“Some boaters used to resist them because they were bulky and made it hard to get around on a boat,” Clark said, “but the ones made today are lightweight and easy to use.”

Before leaving on a trip, Clark recommends informing someone of where you will be going, and approximately when you expect to return. He also reminds boaters to fully charge their cell phones prior to leaving.

“Telling someone what your plans are will let them know if you are overdue so they can inform authorities,” Clark said.

Besides flotation devices, Clark said other basic rules for safety include a check of equipment before taking off. He also reminds boaters, if you have a kill switch on the motor, remember to use it if necessary.

Clark said remember to bring important items such as a cell phone and charger, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, proper clothing, enough food and water for a trip, a safety kit, sunscreen, sunglasses to guard against glare and a device that can be thrown to aid anyone who needs help in the water.

Clark also recommends staying properly hydrated. “Drink liquids,” he said. “Don’t let yourself get dehydrated because the sun will take a lot out of you and slow your reaction time.”

For more on state boating and life jacket regulations visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating.

Capt. Brian Clark, a retired state Wildlife and Fisheries agent who heads the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Marine Division (left) and Sgt. Shane Lulei, also of the Marine Division, stresse that lifejackets should be worn by anyone who boards any type of watercraft, especially children.

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