HCSO, FWC urging boater safety ahead of busy Memorial Day weekend


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – This week marks National Safe Boating Week, and Florida officials want to make sure boaters are safe on the water.

With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are prepared for Tampa Bay waterways to be busy with boaters.

One of the biggest things both agencies look for while out on the water are those who may be boating under the influence.

“It’s dangerous, its illegal and it puts you and your passengers and others on the water at risk for injury or death,” FWC Officer Bryce Phillippi said.

While both agencies are patrolling on the water, they are also checking to make sure you have the proper safety equipment. That includes things like a fire extinguisher, horns, whistles, flares and, of course, life jackets. You have to have a life jacket for each person on your boat and they have to be the correct size to do their job properly.

“The whole idea is if you were to fall and be unconscious, it would stay on you. If I put on a life vest that’s too big, I may slip out of it. If I wear one that’s too small, it might not have enough flotation to float someone my size,” Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Master Sergeant Ryan Balseiro explained.

HCSO has a program where they provide kids life jackets at different boat docks in the county and you can borrow them if you are in need of one for your day on the water. HCSO asks that you put the life jackets back when you are done using them for the day.

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