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Buffalo, NY – Erie County Sheriff John C. Garcia announced today that the Erie County Sheriff’s Marine Unit is participating in National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26, 2023. This week is an awareness campaign that encourages boaters to make the most of the boating season by being responsible and safe.

National Boater Safety Week seeks to remind boaters, personal watercraft operators, and paddlers to brush up on the rules of the waterways and safety skills for the upcoming season.

Sheriff Garcia states, “Although our season isn’t as long as other parts of the country, Western New York has one of the best boat seasons around. As a boater, I familiarize myself with the boating rules each year and check all my equipment. I make special efforts to ensure I have enough life jackets because life jackets save lives.”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities, and those fatalities, 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. 

There are many options for boaters when choosing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, a boater should check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity, and fits appropriately.

The Sheriff’s Marine Unit will be patrolling the waterways to ensure boats are properly registered, operators follow New York State Navigation laws and local ordinances, and they wear the proper safety equipment.

Sheriff Garcia recommends these boater safety tips:

1.    Wear a life jacket.

2.    Take a Boating Safety Course and make sure you carry your Boating Safety Certificate.

3.    Register your vessel.

4.    Check your equipment:

a.    Life jackets;

b.    Visual distress signals;

c.    Fire extinguishers;

d.    Anchor;

e.    Whistle or horn;

f.    Navigation lights;

g.    Anchor lights.

5.    Watch your speed – in New York State, vessel speed is generally limited to 5 mph when within 100 feet of the shore, a dock, pier, raft, float, or anchored boat.

6.    Watch the weather.

7.    Never boat under the influence.

8.    Keep in touch.

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