Tampa police remind boaters to practice water safety ahead of Memorial Day weekend

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s National Safe Boating Week and as the Memorial Day holiday weekend gears up, officials are expecting a lot of Tampa Bay residents to head out onto the water. Before you take off in a boat, however, News Channel 8 wants to make sure you stay as safe as possible.

Law enforcement agencies are coming together to remind residents to have the right safety equipment, like safety vests, throwable floatables, sound-producing devices, fire extinguishers and flares, onboard their vessels before even leaving the dock.

“People will take them off and hose them down and put them in the garage to dry, and they’ll forget to put them back on their boat. It happens. Always check before you leave,” said Officer Craig Baker with the Tampa Police Department Marine Unit.

With the holiday weekend coming up, the waterways are about to get really busy with boaters looking to have a good time.

“People are out now because the weather is beautiful. The winds are calm, so more people are out on the water, and they want to go out and have a good time. Some people take that good time to the extreme and drink too much or have different drugs that impair them,” Baker said.

Boating under the influence will be the top thing officers look for. The first giveaway that someone may be impaired is failing to pay attention to safety signs.

“It seems like there’s so much open water out here, but for some reason, they will come together. You think you’re wide open out here and the next thing you know you have a boat that’s not paying attention. They go down to look at something and they’ll actually run right into you,” he said.

TPD is hoping that no matter how nice of a day it is this weekend, residents will double-check the weather for the rest of the day and account for all safety devices and measures are on their boat before setting sail.

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