Thursday, August 30, 2012

Be Safe on the Lakes this Holiday Weekend

Members of Overland Park’s Community Policing Division would like to pass along an important message to our residents regarding boater safety.

Labor Day is traditionally known as the “End of Summer”. Although Overland Park is not home to a large lake, many of our residents travel to local lakes to enjoy boating activities. Sometimes we need a reminder to be safe while enjoying “time on the water”. It only takes a moment to turn a time of fun with family and friends into a tragedy. Here are a few good tips to make sure your holiday is a safe one!

Alcohol is not a good mix when either driving a car or a watercraft. There are strict Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws in both Kansas and Missouri. The US Coast Guard reports that alcohol use is the primary contributing factor of accidents and casualties in 2011. Enjoy the holiday, but do not operate a vehicle or a boat after consuming alcohol. The motion, vibration, wind, and sun can all accelerate a drinker’s impairment while out on the water.

Life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) can save your life. Laws in Kansas require that children under the age of 12 must wear PFD while on-board a watercraft. It is a good safe practice to make sure everyone wears a PFD while out on the water.
If you are out on the water pulling someone on wake board, ski or tube, remember to designate someone as a “lookout”, and don’t forget to deploy a red or orange “Skier Down” flag when a person goes into the water. People often wonder about when or how to deploy the skier down flag, in Kansas the law states “the flag is to be raised immediately when a rider loses control of a tow rope and falls into the water. The flag is to be lowered once the towing resumes.” Missouri boating law is similar “A rectangular orange or red flag, at least 12 inches x 12 inches, must be displayed when the person is in the water before or after being towed. The flag should not be displayed while the motorboat is engaged in towing but should be displayed again when the towed person enters the water.”

It is your responsibility to know the boating laws and regulations of the waterway you are using! Several states require boating safety courses for persons born after January 1st, 1984, and most states restrict the operation of a boat or personal watercraft by those under the age of 14. Know the law and please be safe!