WENY News - BOATER SAFETY: What You Need to Know Before Hitting the Water

BOATER SAFETY: What You Need to Know Before Hitting the Water

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SCHUYLER CO., N.Y. (WENY) --  It's a summer-time staple to enjoy the regional lakes, however, there are some important boater safety measures you need to be aware of. 

On a windy, sunny and comfortably warm Friday afternoon, Sgt. Steve Lawton of the Schuyler County Sheriff's Office is ensuring people on Cayuta Lake are staying safe. 

"I like to see everybody have a good time and a safe time and I don't have to get involved other than that," Sgt. Lawton says. 

One of the primary safeguards required for all boaters is a safety vest. 

"First thing you should be concerned with is make sure that you have the correct number of Personal Flotation Devices for everybody that's intended on going boating and make sure that they're proper size and U.S. Coast Guard approved," he explains. 

Another safety measure: create what's called a "float plan."

"It lets somebody, whether it be family or friends, know what lake you're on, where you're going to be on the lake, when you return. You file that with someone prior to going on your voyage, along with a return time. And if you don't return, that way somebody is going to report you missing," says Sgt. Lawton. 

There are plenty of other risks associated with boating. Sgt. Lawton explains why having the right tools can prevent a tough situation from turning worse. 

"Of course there's always the chance of fire on board. One of the things that you're required to carry is a fire extinguisher. In the event of a mechanical breakdown - line & anchor. The line & anchor is your only means of stopping the vessel so it can help you avoid a collision, either on shore or an object that's out in the waterway, or another boat."

Common violations Sgt. Lawton says he finds while on patrol are a lack of safety vests and riding on the bow of the boat while it's in motion.

"That is against the law. It's considered  reckless operation under New York State Navigation Law. You must be in manufactured seating any time the boat is underway." 

Additionally, as far drinking goes, the same rules apply to boat drivers as they do to typical drivers on the road, and the penalties are the same too. Blood Alcohol Levels 0.08 or above is considered boating while intoxicated and could result in the operator loosing their boater's license.

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