Officials advise boating safety on Memorial Day weekend amid heavy patrolling

KEY BISCAYNE, FLA. (WSVN) - Local law enforcement agencies have come together this Memorial Day weekend to keep South Florida’s waterways safe, and they have several tips for boaters to help prevent accidents.

Revelers on boats of varying sizes cheered for 7News cameras on a picture-perfect Sunday on the water. While the weather makes it boating season in South Florida year round, officials advised caution on this holiday weekend.

“There are two things that are going to cause accidents on the water this weekend. The first is excessive speed, and the second is alcohol,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Mike Cortese.

Miami-Dade County’s BUI Task Force will be out on patrol throughout the weekend. “To ensure that people who want to boat safely can,” said Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press. “People who don’t want to boat safely go to jail.”

Officials have set up three separate command centers across the county, and technicians have been going out with crews to catch impaired boaters. “Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the City of Miami, both fire boats will be out in the waters in full force,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Carlos Gimenez.

Miami Dade County saw nearly 100 boating accidents in 2015. Three people died and more than 70 sustained injuries.

Officials said water safety starts on the dock. They reminded boaters to check equipment like flares and whistles before they leave, as well as ensuring everyone on board is wearing a life jacket.

“This last year, 2015, 64 percent of boating fatalities were due to drowning, and the simple use of a life jacket can prevent that,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Maj. Alfredo Escanio.

Officials also advised boaters to have a float plan, which entails telling loved ones where they are going and when they expect to be back.

For more information on boating safety, go to the FWC website.

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