The outdoor temperature is rising, and Maryland’s waterways are about to get a lot busier. The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) reminds anglers, boaters, swimmers, and all waterway users to take proper precautions. 

In 2021, Maryland had 145 reportable boating accidents; 51 of those accidents caused injuries, and six were fatal. These numbers are down from the previous year when Maryland saw 155 reportable boating accidents, 64 injuries, and six fatal accidents resulting in seven deaths. 

Credit: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Although boating accidents are decreasing, those who enter waterways must continue to practice safe boating. NRP is dedicated to educating and protecting Marylanders; this boating season officers will once again be out in force to engage the public about safe waterway practices and to enforce the law on unsafe, negligent, and impaired boating.

While it is important that everyone has an enjoyable boating experience, safety must come first. Boaters are encouraged to wear a life jacket because it drastically reduces the chance of a fatality, and citations will be issued to those who fail to carry a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket or the required safety equipment. 

“Safety is our No. 1 priority and officers will be out in full force, but accidents sometimes happen more quickly than our officers can respond,” NRP  Superintendent Col. Adrian Baker said. “We encourage Marylanders to take the proper precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from the unpredictable. Take the extra step to ensure your and your family’s safety by taking a boating safety class, getting your vessel inspected, and operating sober.”

Here are some helpful tips for waterway users to “know before you go”:

  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • File a float plan with a family member or friend, advising them of trip details in the event of an emergency.
  • Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, fire extinguisher, horn or whistle, first aid kit, throwable life jackets, line, etc. 
  • Check navigation lights prior to departure.
  • Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Avoid distracted boating and travel at safe speeds.
  • Have more than one form of communication that works when wet.
  • Download the U.S. Coast Guard app and the Maryland AccessDNR app for easy reference information on Maryland’s waterways.

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