STATEWIDE – Boating deaths have reached double digits so far this year. Authorities say half of those deaths involved alcohol, and could have been prevented by taking the right precautions.
The death toll has reached 11 for boaters in Maine this year, all coming before the first day of summer.
One of those deaths was a police officer trying to get to a boater in the water who wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Maine wardens have had enough.
“People aren’t always making the connection or proper risk assessment;” said Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service. “[They’re not] drawing the line between operating on the water and having it be hazardous.”
If you’re an adult, wearing a life jacket isn’t required, but Cpl. MacDonald says simply stowing it away isn’t enough.
“People shouldn’t assume that they’re going to be able to function and get to their life jacket in an emergency in the water.”
When someone goes into the water, it’s the job of police and rescue crews to try to save them, but waterways stretch deep into the most heavily wooded state in the nation. Rescue probably isn’t coming in time.
“Chances are, if you’re ejected into the water, either you or someone that saw you go into the water is gonna be the one taking you out,” added MacDonald. “We’re probably gonna be there too late to actually save you.”
“You gotta think about, if you get into a crash, you not only need to save yourself, you need to save your loved one. You’re likely not gonna get the chance to get your life jacket on, to get to your child to help save them. So it’s not only yourself you’re thinking about, it’s everybody that’s with you.”
A life jacket costs anywhere from $50-$150. That may sound like a lot for a piece of foam, but MacDonald says it’s a critical purchase.
“You spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your boat, and your trailer, and your truck to haul it to where you want to go. Make the additional investment and get some life-saving gear.”