West Virginia’s waterways will be full of recreational boaters this holiday weekend. DNR police officers say to be safe — and have fun — in that order.
Every year about this time, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources runs its Operation Dry Water campaign.
“It’s important to get that message out every year that says boating is a fun recreational activity, but you have to be responsible about it. If not, people that are close to you have the potential to be injured,” said Lt. Col. David Trader, the DNR’s deputy chief of law enforcement.
Trader said it’s the law that boat operators must remain clean and sober. But he also said no one on board, for safety’s sake, should be visibly impaired, intoxicated or using drugs.
“They can still stumble around or fall out of a boat or get injured, “Trader said. “The overall picture of boating responsibly dictates that we control behaviors out in the water so that people don’t get hurt.”
The law says all passengers must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device on board. Try those life preservers on before you take off, Trader said, especially on the kids.
“First thing you should do is put the lifejacket on,” Trader said. “Make sure it fits them, make sure that it’s rated and in good condition and then keep it on.”
All boats must also have an audible warning device like a horn or whistle, and meet lighting requirements for night boating.
DNR police officers across this state will be out on all West Virginia lakes and navigable rivers this weekend.