As boating season gets underway, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is urging all waterway users to prioritize safety measures. Whether boating, kayaking, swimming, or fishing, individuals are encouraged to take proper precautions on the water. In collaboration with its partners, the department is hosting events and initiatives throughout May and the summer to promote personal flotation devices and other lifesaving habits and equipment.
A significant event to raise awareness is the Wear Your Life Jacket at Work Day, which will take place on May 19. This initiative encourages water enthusiasts worldwide to wear their life jackets during their regular work activities. Following this event, National Safe Boating Week will commence, a national campaign aimed at emphasizing responsible practices for individuals enjoying water-based activities. The Maryland Natural Resources Police, a longstanding partner in these efforts, recognizes the significance of waterway recreation within the state.
Donna Seymour, the Boater Safety Lead of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, expressed the department’s commitment to reducing fatalities on waterways. Seymour emphasized the importance of personal flotation devices, stating, “If you end up in the water, life jackets can give you more time to be rescued and increase your chances of survival.”
The statistics from 2022 reveal the necessity for promoting waterway safety. Maryland experienced 132 reportable boating accidents, resulting in 48 injuries and 11 fatalities. Alarmingly, only two of the individuals who lost their lives were wearing life jackets at the time of the accidents.
To address this issue, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police has implemented a new initiative near the Sandy Point State Park marina. A kiosk has been set up to provide life jackets to visitors who do not have their own. The borrowed life jackets can be returned later, ensuring that everyone has access to this essential, lifesaving equipment. Sandy Point State Park is a popular destination in Maryland, attracting hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors annually for activities such as swimming in the Chesapeake Bay and launching various watercraft.
In addition to the kiosk, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources aims to spread the message of preparedness through a video campaign. All state, county, and municipal police and fire companies in Maryland are invited to submit videos of their members wearing U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets during their regular work shifts. Winning submissions will be featured on the Department of Natural Resources website and social media platforms. This collaborative effort among first responders and law enforcement agencies reinforces their role in promoting waterway safety. Detailed rules and entry instructions can be found on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website, with a submission deadline of 5 p.m. on June 30, 2023.
Waterway emergencies often necessitate the involvement of first responders from around the state, who regularly work alongside the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the U.S. Coast Guard. By creating videos that highlight the importance of life jackets, these first responders contribute to the ongoing efforts to enhance waterway safety.
As summer approaches and the number of individuals engaging in water-related activities rises, it is crucial for all waterway users to prioritize safety. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources continues to work diligently, in partnership with various organizations, to ensure that individuals are aware of the significance of personal flotation devices and other safety measures. By participating in events like Wear Your Life Jacket at Work Day and National Safe Boating Week, and by utilizing initiatives like the life jacket lending station, individuals can help reduce accidents and fatalities, making Maryland’s waterways safer for all.