On alert for drunk boaters

OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — If you go out on a boat this weekend, you’ll have plenty of company on the water, and some of those folks are out there just to keep you safe.

“Boating under the influence this weekend is a big deal,” said Mark Chanski. He is with the Boating Division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection — DEEP for short. His job is to educate boaters about safety.

Mark Chanski of DEEP.
Mark Chanski of DEEP.

This weekend is “Operation Dry Water.” Dry as in not drinking alcohol while out on the water.

“About 50% of fatal boating accidents are alcohol related,” Chanski said, “and there is a big national push to drive those numbers down.”

LINK: CT Boater’s Guide

We all know the dangers of drinking and driving and how you can lose your car, your license, even your freedom. It’s much the same for boating under the influence.

“Just like a car, you can be pulled over, arrested, charged with boating under the influence, go to court, go to jail,” Chanski said.

Of course there are other dangers on the water as well. You should have a life jacket for everyone on board. Better yet, wear it, because they don’t have to be big and bulky anymore.

News 8's Kent Pierce gets a lesson in life vest inflation from Mark Chanski of DEEP.
News 8’s Kent Pierce gets a lesson in life vest inflation from Mark Chanski of DEEP.

A demonstration on Good Morning Connecticut showed just how quickly some life jackets can inflate.

“This one you just give it a pull and it should inflate.”
“That was really easy and fast.”

And in a boating emergency, they make a huge difference in whether you and your loved ones live or die. .

“90% of boating fatalities on the water are the result of drowning and 80% of those people were not wearing a life jacket at the time,” Chanski said.

Local police, state officers, and the US Coast Guard will be out checking for BUI, boaters under the influence, so if you’re driving the boat don’t drink.

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