MONETA, Va. – A day on the lake can take a dangerous turn in a matter of seconds if you’re not prepared. If you plan to hit the lake this Memorial Day weekend, here are some precautions to keep in mind.
Conservation Police Officer Tyler Routen said patrols will be watching for violations and looking for safety.
Drivers will need a boating license and should have a life jacket for everyone on board. Kids who are 13 and under should always wear their life jackets.
“Before you put the boat on the water just run through that checklist and say, ‘OK. I have my PFDs. My fire extinguisher is good. My boating license is here, and I have everything that I need before I set out, so I can get out and have a good time and not have to worry about it.’”
One of the most common violations boaters are pulled over for is bow riding, which can be dangerous. If someone falls off the boat while it’s moving, they can get stuck under the boat, run over by it and injured by the propeller.
“It’s very dangerous, and it happens every year,” said Routen.
Just like you should never drive drunk on dry land, never drive a boat under the influence either.
“Especially with the boat traffic coming up and people potentially having fun out there, maybe too much fun,” said Routen. “We’re focusing on trying to get those unsafe drivers off the water.”
Chief Todd Ohlerich with Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire & Rescue said you need to be aware of other boaters, tubers and your surroundings.
“Make sure that you know where you are on the lake in case of an emergency, so we can reduce our time to get there,” said Ohlerich.
Slow down in no-wake zones and never drive recklessly.
“If I’m the one driving the boat, whether I’m brand new to this area or I’ve been here for 20 years, it’s on me to keep myself, my passengers safe and everyone else that I’m going to be driving past on the water safe,” said Routen.