MIAMI (WSVN) — Many in South Florida are spending Memorial Day weekend out on the water, and officials are working hard to make sure everyone stays safe.
It’s all hands on deck and on the waters for members of City of Miami Fire Rescue. “It’s a very big weekend for accidents, emergencies,” said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. James Harrison
And that’s why law enforcement agencies and rescue crews are teaming up to make sure boaters remain safe.
Miami Fire Rescue took a 7News crew out to Miami Beach as boaters took in the Air and Sea Show. “This weekend, we’ve actually stepped up the amount of assets out on the water,” said Harrison.
Working in 24-hour shifts until Monday, their team of divers and a second fire pump are ready for any emergency.
But officials said there are simple things you can do to prevent a tragedy. They advised boaters to ensure they have all safety essentials before heading out on the water.
- easily accessible life jackets for everyone on board
- aerial, signal and smoke flares
- fire extinguisher
- an emergency beacon, which helps rescue crews find boaters even if their vessels are submerged
“Knowing where your life vests are and putting it on is the difference between life and death,” said Harrison.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Florida leads the nation in boating accidents as of 2015.
Officials cite drinking and speed as the two main contributors. “You find that most boating accidents, most serious boating accidents, include one or the other or both,” said. “Over the last three weekends, we’ve had several accidents involving personal watercraft,” said Lupo Sanchez of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Marine Patrol.
Just this past Sunday, a personal watercraft collided with a boat just off the coast of Miami, near Picnic Islands. Earlier that day, in Southwest Miami-Dade, an explosion on a boat sent adults and children on board to the hospital.
In Fort Lauderdale, two boats collided on the Intracoastal Waterway, overnight Sunday.
On Tuesday, two fishermen lost their lives after their boat capsized off Dania Beach.
Law enforcement officials said there’s a zero tolerance police for boating under the influence on this holiday weekend. “Boat sober. On a weekend like this, if you’re operating your vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Maj. Alfredo Escanio.
“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable weekend and the rest of boating season,” said another FWC spokesperson.
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