OHIO KICKS OFF BOATING SAFETY CAMPAIGN WITH "OPERATION OVERBOARD" |
COLUMBUS, OH - In an effort to reduce early season boating accidents resulting from improperly loaded watercraft, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) this week begins its "Operation Overboard" campaign.
The campaign, which continues through May, emphasizes the dangers associated with overloaded and improperly loaded boats that can become swamped and capsize in frigid waters. It also reminds boaters to always properly wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on the water.
“Ohio has experienced a reduction in the number of boating-related fatalities that result from persons falling overboard and boats capsizing or swamping because of Operation Overboard,” said Mike Quinn, acting chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft.
In 2005, three boating-related fatalities occurred as a result of overloading or swamping. There was one such boating-related fatality in 2004, two in 2003 and six in 2002.
Properly loading your boat and wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket are especially important in the early spring when waters are very cold and fast moving. Early season boaters and anglers tend to dress according to air temperatures, but often forget that water temperatures in Ohio's lakes and streams remain in the 30s and 40s. It therefore is recommended that boaters wear protective layers of clothing to help prevent the onset of hypothermia should they fall into the water.
State watercraft officers and local marine patrols will be conducting boat safety inspections at launch ramps around Ohio this spring with special attention to loading conditions. Last year, state watercraft officers provided more than 42,000 watercraft safety inspections statewide. Information regarding boating safety and tips for avoiding hypothermia are available at ohiodnr.com