SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. – Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, officials with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources want to remind people to stay safe when near the water.
They’re doing so by recognizing National Safe Boating Week from May 21-27.
“In preparation we are asking people to be hydrated, make sure you have your boating safety education taken. We are also asking when you are out, you have a plan,” said James Slaughter, conservation police sergeant.
DWR says last year there were 89 boating incidents across the Commonwealth, resulting in 47 injuries and 19 deaths.
“A lot of these could’ve been prevented simply by paying attention,” said Slaughter.
Another way some of those incidents could’ve been prevented, wearing a lifejacket.
Federal law says children 13 years old and younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times, but it’s highly recommended for everyone.
“It’s just like wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle. We encourage everyone to wear it even if you are in a situation where you aren’t required by law.”
Every boat in Virginia is required to have a lifejacket on board for each passenger.
Other things boaters should have with them, a fire extinguisher and a ring buoy.