DETROIT (WWJ) – The summer boating season has already begun with numerous boaters on the Detroit River, fishing for walleye. Now that Memorial Day weekend is just around the bend, more and more boaters are hitting the waves.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon is reminding boaters about personal safety and the importance of wearing life vests.
“I would not personally get on a boat without a floatation device on and I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to do it, because you never know when a wave could hit, the boat could become unstable and you could fall off and then it’s too late to reach for one at that point,” Napoleon said.
According to Napoleon, the county’s marine division is called to help rescue boaters in trouble at least four or five times a year. Unfortunately, their missions are more often recovery than rescue in nature.
“It’s unfortunate. Every year due to, quite frankly, negligence and people not exercising proper safety precautions, we do have several drownings in the rivers,” Napoleon said. ”Although the Detroit River may look very calm, it has a very treacherous under current and generally, unless you’re a phenomenal swimmer, that undercurrent will take you away. Once you’re in the water current, it’s too late to reach for a life vest.”
While children under the age of six are required by law to wear a flotation device, adults are not required to wear a flotation device. Napoleon thinks that law should be changed.
“I do think that adults should be required to wear them. But, it’s a personal thing and there are people who argue with it just like seatbelts. You know, and there are still people who don’t wear seatbelts even though they’re required,” Napoleon said.
Although not wearing a safety vest while out on the water is not a ticketable offense, operating a watercraft while drunk or speeding in wake-zones can land you with hefty fines.
Macomb County Sheriff Tony Wickersham said boater safety is often an issue of common sense.
“Being out on the water can be very dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. But, the advice that we give is to be prepared, make sure you are wearing your personal floatation devices and that you have enough for every occupant on the vessel. And, don’t drink and drive. It’s a simple message,” Wickersham said.
Keep safe while boating this summer season and enjoy all the state has to offer on our local waterways!