ALEA launches National Safe Boating Week

Published 1:00 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

As temperatures rise and Alabamians visit the state’s waterways, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division is partnering with the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) to observe National Safe Boating Week May 20-26.

The agency launched the safety week by appointing personnel within varying divisions and units to sport life jackets around the office on May 19. The emphasis celebrated “Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day,” an annual fun and educational event held prior to National Safe Boating Week, which officially kicks off NSBC’s Safe Boating Campaign.

“Educating the public about the safety as well as the comfort of life jackets continues to be a priority for our Agency during this important campaign,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. “Situations on the water can change in the blink of an eye and fatalities from drowning are preventable tragedies that can affect anyone in or around the water. That is why it is imperative for those near the water to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved and properly fitted life jacket as it is the simplest life-saving strategy for those participating in recreational boating, paddling or towed water sports.” 

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Marine Patrol Division Chief Steve Thompson said life jackets are a key component of boating safety and should be accompanied by the knowledge and skill to keep watercraft under control in different environments.

“In February, ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division offered numerous free boating safety and license courses across the state to prepare for the busy summer season,” Thompson said. “These courses were a great opportunity for citizens to spend time on their local waterways and discuss the particular challenges boaters may face with local Troopers. Now that our classes have wrapped up, we are looking ahead to continue to serve local boaters by offering free vessel inspections.” 

ALEA’s Marine Patrol Northern District is offering free, courtesy vessel inspections on May 23, from 10 a.m. until noon at these locations:

  • Pickwick Lake (Florence): Florence Harbor Marina – McFarland Park 
  • Lake Guntersville: City Harbor Marina 
  • Logan Martin Lake: Riverside City Boat Ramp

Troopers will also be available to inspect required safety equipment and to educate boaters on the proper fitting of life jackets ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

The agency recommends boaters follow these safety tips:

  • Gain knowledge and on-water experience by taking a voting safety course;
  • Inspect all equipment to ensure it is in proper working order;
  • Let someone on shore know your plans prior to departure. Include the trip itinerary, operator and passenger information, boat type and registration information, and communication availability;
  • Always wear a life jacket, every trip. Alabama law requires children under 8 years of age to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) except when below deck or in an enclosed cabin;
  • Alabama law requires an engine cut-off switch to stop a powerboat engine if the operator falls overboard;
  • Be aware of weather conditions and incoming weather;
  • Know what’s happening around the boat;
  • Familiarize yourself with the route before departure;
  • Never operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances;
  • Keep more than one communication device and check in often.

For more boating resources and tips, visit www.alea.gov