Boating Safety, Safety Patrols Begin Soon

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

News Release 12-31
Date:  May 11, 2012

 The sun, water, and wind can make for a great day to go cruising along a river, lake, or majestic bay in a boat. For many individuals and families this is a favorite summer pastime. It can be safe, as well as fun, if the fundamental rules of boating are understood and observed.

On Saturday, May 26, 2012, firefighters from Fire and Rescue Station 20, Gunston, will begin safety patrol duties in Fireboat 420 on the Potomac River and Mason Neck Area. The patrols will continue through the month of September.

  • The National Safety Council recommends the following tips for recreational boaters:
  • Don't drink and boat. Boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. The "designated driver" system doesn't work in boating. Everyone is at risk because the boat's motion, coupled with alcohol, increases the chances of losing balance and falling overboard.
  • Everyone on the boat should wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket. A PFD is the best protection against drowning.
  • Check the weather and water conditions before leaving the shore. If it looks like storms are brewing or the water is very choppy, wait for another day to go boating.
  • Limit the number of passengers in a small boat. Don't exceed the limit allowed by the boat's capacity plate. Keep in mind the size and weight of each person--equal distribution of weight will limit the possibility of capsizing.
  • Have visual distress devices approved by the Coast Guard on board. Pyrotechnic red flares, orange smoke, orange distress flags, and electric distress lights must be in good working order and easily accessible.
  • Use the "one-third rule" in fuel management. Use one-third of the fuel to go, one-third to get back, and keep one-third in reserve.
  • Always tell someone where you will be boating, when you will be back, what your boat looks like, and other identifying information.

Recreational boating is second only to highway transportation in the number of fatalities that occur each year. Alcohol is involved in most of these accidents.

To ensure that you are following safe boating procedures, sign-up for a boating safety course near your home.

For more information on this or other safety issues, please contact Public Affairs and Life Safety Education at 703-246-3801 or TTY 711.

Always remember: Boating and booze don't mix!

For more information, call Daniel L. Schmidt or Captain I Randal Bittinger,
Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, 703-246-3801 and TTY: 711.
Duty PIO (Weekends/After-hours): 703-877-3702
Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs,
services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request.
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Fairfax, VA 22030

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