MILWAUKEE — The United States Coast Guard and other local law enforcement agencies will be out on the water this Fourth of July weekend participating in Operation Dry Water. The campaign runs from July 2 to July 4.
During the three-day time period, the Coast Guard will be enforcing boating under the influence laws.
According to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, that's why U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Phillip Gurtler said it’s important for boaters not to drink and drive.
“We are out there really focusing on boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs. This is a major concern, every year, we see this is as a factor in a lot of the cases we see,” said Lt. Gurtler.
With the warm summer weather, Lt. Gurtler said they have noticed an uptick in people out on the water. From the beginning of the year to the week of June 21, they have had 500 cases, from law enforcement calls to pollution, to search and rescue. Of those 500 cases, 400 of those cases were assisting lives.
“Meaning had we not been there those lives would have resulted in immediate danger and 72 lives saved meaning without coast guard intervention they would have passed on,” said Gurtler.
Lt. Gurtler said it’s critical for people to play it safe when out on the water. He suggests people remember these safety tips
- Be prepared: Have a plan in place and never swim alone.
- Double-check equipment: make sure your boat is properly stocked with supplies, the radio is working, life vests are on board and flares are in order.
- Do your research: If you’re swimming, learn about the area
“Is there known rip currents in the area will there be a lifeguard if there is postage signage the signage is there to keep you safe,” said Lt. Gurtler.
Lt Gurtler said it’s also critical that there are enough life jackets on board the boat. Children under the age of 13 must wear a life vest and jackets must be within arms reach for adults.
For more information on Operation Dry Water, click here.