Boating safety trumps social media post, says police chief

Boat sandy point state park
Family launches boat a Sandy Point State Park marina. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Boating safely during the Fourth of July weekend is more important than posing for a social media post with a beer in your hand, local first responders said.

As recreational boaters backed vessels, ranging from fishing boats to one-person rowboats, into the Chesapeake Bay at the Sandy Point State Park marina Wednesday, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and Anne Arundel County Fire Department offered safety reminders.



”Alcohol impairment can lead to a delay in judgment, reaction time, balance and vision” for the person at the helm, said Adrian Baker, the chief of the DNR police. “Intoxicated passengers can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, or try to stand up, and if you’re in a small vessel that can cause it to capsize.”

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Matt Kinsman said the agency responded to 140 calls for aid last summer, resulting in about 50 saved lives. Kinsman said all the people who were saved were wearing Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices.

Kinsman said life jackets come in sizes ranging from infants to adults of all heights and girths.

As recreational boaters backed vessels into the Chesapeake Bay at the Sandy Point State Park marina, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and Anne Arundel County Fire Department offered safety reminders. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

”Make sure they’re really accessible on your boat,” Kinsman added. “Also, never forget to have a Type 4 throwable flotation device, in case you have a person go in the water.”

In the event of an emergency, Kinsman advised making sure that distress calls, either on VHF marine radio Channel 16 radio or cellphone, include key information: “Try to get the location out as clearly as possible, also the number of people involved. With only those two pieces of information, we can have an effective response.”

Baker said of those who might flaunt safety best practices to snap a photo for a social media post: “You’re distracted, you’re not paying attention,” Baker said.

”It sends a bad message to hold a beer,” said Baker. “Although it’s not illegal to consume alcohol, it certainly is illegal to be intoxicated.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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