Operation Dry Water heightened boating enforcement weekend begin - WNEM TV 5

Operation Dry Water heightened boating enforcement weekend begins Friday

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

This weekend, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will be conducting extra boating patrols on the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers of Michigan.

It's part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign, a yearlong effort to raise awareness among recreational boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence. 

Michigan conservation officers also caution passengers to stay sober while boating. Intoxication can cause passengers to slip or fall overboard and can lead to other dangerous accidents, according to the DNR.

Studies show passengers are 10 times more likely to fall overboard when they have consumed alcohol.

In addition to staying away from alcohol and other controlled substances - including certain medications - while boating, Michigan conservation officers also offer these safety tips:

Wear a life jacket. More than 80 percent of drowning accidents in the United States are due to people not wearing their life jackets.

Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working order. In addition to all legally required equipment, such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry additional items such as a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor. Make sure navigation lights are working properly. Being on the water is not the time for a breakdown or emergency.

File a float plan. Always let a family member or friend on shore know the “who, what, when and where” of your trip. Let them know when you are expected to be back. Give them phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in the event you don't return when expected.

Maintain a sharp lookout. Stay alert for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and during conditions of restricted visibility.

Carry a marine radio or cell phone. Be prepared to call for help in case you are involved in an accident, your boat becomes disabled or you otherwise need assistance. Program the phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in your cell phone. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, but be aware that there are often gaps in coverage on the water.

Pack sunscreen, bottled water and a blanket or umbrella. In addition to sunscreen, you’ll need a blanket or umbrella to protect you from the hot sun. Bring extra bottled water, more than you’ll need, in case of an emergency.

"We also recommend a boating safety course for anyone who plans on taking to the water in a boat or on a personal watercraft," said Sgt. Al Bavarskas, marine specialist with the DNR Law Enforcement Division's recreational safety, education and enforcement section. "Boating safety classes are offered at different locations around the state and online, making it convenient and affordable."

For more information on boating safety, including who is required to take a boating safety class, click here.

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