NRP will be conducting an extensive statewide enforcement effort to promote safety this weekend.
“Memorial Day is generally considered to be the official beginning of the boating and camping season in Maryland,” said NRP Superintendent Colonel George F. Johnson IV. “During the busy holiday weekend, we urge citizens to make safety a number one priority while enjoying Maryland waterways and parks.”
NRP will aggressively target boaters driving in a reckless or negligent manner and/or under the influence of alcohol. Officers will also make sure boaters have the required safety equipment onboard and are maintaining a proper lookout.
Last year, NRP responded to over 323 boating accidents, of which 219 accidents involved injuries beyond first aid and/or damages in excess of $2,000. There were13 boating fatalities in 2010 as compared to 17 in 2009. The five-year average is 13 deaths per calendar year.
NRP is advising recreational users of the Upper Potomac River to enjoy their holiday weekend and keep cautious eye on the weather and river levels. Although the current advisory expires today, any additional significant rainfall and the resulting runoff will cause water levels to rise and hazardous conditions may resume.
Generally boating safety relies on good judgment and safety precautions before departing from the dock. Boaters can help ensure their safety and the safety of others by remembering the acronym “SAFE”;
· S – Survey or examine your boat’s hull, engine and navigational equipment for serviceability. Ensure the hull is sound and free of cracks, holes and defects. Inspect the vessel’s engine performance. Take it to a certified mechanic to ensure the engine is operating properly. Survey and examine all navigational lights, communication, radar, GPS and other electronic equipment to ensure that they are functioning properly.
· A – Anticipate the needs of the trip prior to leaving the dock. Ensure fuel, clothing, and medical needs are met during the trip. Plan for unexpected events like severe weather or sudden storms.
· F – File a float plan with a friend or relative. Tell someone where you are going, how long you plan to stay, and when you expect to return. This is vital information for rescuers searching for lost or overdue boaters.
· E – Equipment. Ensure that all safety equipment is in good condition and sufficient quantity for the people on board the vessel. Basic equipment includes correct size and quantity of life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals (flares etc), and sound producing devices such as a whistle or horn.
NRP will also be patrolling in the parks and forests focusing on alcohol consumption in picnic areas, pavilions, campgrounds and waterfront areas. Officers will educate the public about where these beverages are permitted. Patrols will also focus on underage alcohol possession and drunk driving.
Additional emphasis will also be placed on conserving Maryland’s natural resources. Officers will concentrate on possession and size limits of all Maryland fisheries.
Note: If you choose to use an acronym, please refer to Maryland Natural Resources Police as “NRP”. Thank you.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is the enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With an authorized strength of 247 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the NRP provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov