VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner and law enforcement officials are working to promote safe and sober boating with the use of life jackets as part of National Safe Boating Week.
“Last year, 64% of boating fatalities were drownings and had that person had a life jacket, that could have saved their life,” said Lieutenant Colonel Alfredo Escanio with FWC.
FWC officials say they plan to have “all hands on deck” this weekend.
“We do expect it to be very busy. We will have all officers on the water that are available with our partner agencies, and hopefully that will be enough deterrent for people to make sure that they are checking that safety equipment, they are operating safely, and they are designating a sober operator,” said FWC Officer Adam Brown.
This year, FWC is putting an emphasis on areas hard hit during Hurricane Ian, as impacts from the storm continue affecting local waterways in the southern portion of Sarasota County and beyond.
“We recently had Hurricane Ian come through and it drastically changed the landscape of our waters and our intercoastal waterway. A lot of the channels that people are used to boating every single day, a lot of the markers are missing,” said Officer Brown.” If this is maybe the first time you are getting out on your boat in months and months, what you’re seeing is very different from what you are used to, so go slow and be cautious, because it has changed,” he continued.
Officer Brown said in areas further south, some channels may have shifted as a result of the storm. He also explained many of the signs that the storm uprooted, have yet to be replaced.
“Kind of act like you have never been on these waters before, because they are definitely different than what they used to be,” said the FWC officer.
He said boaters can visit myFWC.com for more information on speed zones throughout the area.