‘each year we investigate boating fatalities where if someone was wearing their life jacket, they would still be alive.’

Boaters urged to wear life jackets, abide by headway speed law, boat safely

Mon, 05/31/2021 - 4:00pm

AUGUSTA — The Maine Warden Service is urging all boaters to wear their PFD (personal floatation device), abide by the Headway Speed law, and to boat safely.

“With cooler water temperatures in May, it’s important that boaters wear their PFDs,” said Maine Warden Lieutenant Jason Luce “No one expects to find themselves in the water when they are boating, but a PFD can save your life if you fall in.”

Annually, over 85% of the country’s boating fatalities involve boaters not wearing lifejackets. Approximately half of Maine’s boating deaths involve non-motorized watercraft such as canoes and kayaks with the paddler not wearing a PFD. Even the strongest swimmers lose the ability to stay afloat when immersed in cold water for a period of time. A life jacket can keep you afloat until help arrives, according to the Warden Service.

“A life jacket doesn’t help if it is stored under the seat of a boat and you are in the water,” said Colonel Dan Scott. “Tragically, each year we investigate boating fatalities where if someone was wearing their life jacket, they would still be alive.“

The Maine Warden Service enforces all Maine’s boating laws and will be on patrol reminding boaters to wear their life jackets. Additionally, wardens will be looking for violations of Maine’s Headway Speed law, which requires all motorized watercraft to operate at the minimum speed to maintain steerage while within 200 feet of any shore (including islands). Maine’s headway speed law protects boaters, swimmers, personal property, the shoreline from erosion and nesting wildlife.

Before you head out on Maine’s waters, the Maine Warden Service reminds you to:

  • Wear your life jacket.
    Do not mix alcohol and boating.
    Be conscious of your boat’s wake.
    Operate your watercraft at a reasonable speed for conditions and be considerate of other boaters on the water.
    Devise a float plan. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
    Be mindful of headway speed areas on Maine’s waters, and obey all boating laws.
    If your boat has an attachable engine cut-off switch, utilize it.
    Make sure your boat is equipped with all the proper safety equipment, including wearable life jackets for all on board
    Always check the weather before heading out.

For more information concerning boating safety, please visit https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/boating/index.html for more information as well as for online boating safety courses.