YORK COUNTY, Maine — As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, officials at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) are urging people to keep safety tips in mind.
May 20 to May 26 is also National Boating Safety Week. A few safety tips they’re asking people to keep in mind are:
- Always wear a life jacket.
- Never boat while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Have a float plan to let someone know when and where you will be boating.
- Check the weather forecast for storms and high water conditions.
- Take a boating safety course.
- Have proper registrations or launch permits for your boat.
“The number one safety fail we see people doing this time of year is not wearing their safety jacket; it is the easiest step they can take,” said Adam Spangler, boating safety education specialist at PFBC.
Spangler said last year there were nine fatalities during the boating season, and six of the fatalities were caused because the person was not wearing a life jacket. The life jacket must be U.S. Coast Guard-approved and fit comfortably.
The legal limit for operating any watercraft in Pennsylvania is .08% blood alcohol concentration, and penalties for boating under the influence are similar to those for driving a car while impaired.
PFBC waterways conservation officers will be on patrol throughout the boating season looking for impaired boaters.
Even if you’re not out on the water, there are a few recommendations the National Fire Protection Association has for the Memorial Day weekend.
- For propane grills, check the gas tank for leaks before use in the months ahead. (Consider watching NFPA’s video on how to check for leaks.)
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Place the grill well away from the home and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grilling area.
- If you use starter fluid when charcoal grilling, only use charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire. When you have or are finished grilling, let the coals cool completely before disposing in a metal container.
- Never leave your grill unattended when in use.
According to the NFPA, an average of 19,700 people go to the emergency room each year because of injuries involving grills. Children under 5 make up an average of 2,000 per year who receive contact burns. These burns typically occurred when someone, often a child, bumped into, touched or fell on the grill, grill part or hot coals.