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Put safety first this summer, police tell boaters

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The Marine Police Unit and the Water Safety Council today warned residents to put safety first during the summer season following a spate of marine incidents in recent weeks.

As a result, the Bermuda Police Service’s Marine Unit had launched a crackdown to ensure the safe operation of all vessels on the water, Inspector Robert Cardwell of the Marine and Roads Policing Units said.

“This includes the enforcement of the five knot/no wake zone designated in and around the shores of Bermuda,” he said. “Boat operators are reminded that this law must be obeyed at all times to avoid accidents with swimmers and damage to property.

“Additionally, boat operators are responsible for their wake and should exercise good judgment when around docks and fuel stations even if not in a five knot/no wake zone.”

Boat owners are required to carry safety equipment on board their crafts. Officers will conduct checks throughout the summer season, Insp Cardwell said.

“Any vessel operator, upon inspection by the marine police found not to be carrying the appropriate safety equipment can expect to be reported for the offence committed and police will exercise their authority to order an operator to return the vessel to its dock or moorings. Failing to comply with this order is also a reportable offence.”

Operating vessels under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law, Insp Cardwell added.

He warned Jet Ski operators that officers traditionally received a “disproportionate number of complaints” about the way their machines were handled.

“The power and speed of some of the more modern Jet Skis require that they be operated responsibly and safely or it is likely serious injury will be suffered by the operator as well as other water users,” he said. “Public docks are for loading and unloading only.

“Vessels should not be left tied to a public dock and the operator should never leave their vessel unattended at a public dock. A reportable offence is committed by any person who fails to obey this law. The Marine Police Unit will be coordinating the enforcement of safe Jet Ski operation and public dock access with land-based police units.”

He urged boat owners not to operate their vessels at night unless they are experienced.

“There are various water hazards to be considered including reefs, fixed buoys, islands and floating debris,” Insp Cardwell said. “Running lights (green for starboard, red for port and white for stern) are required. It is critically important that marine vessels are not run at speed at night time and that anyone who is operating a marine vessel at night time has the skill and the local navigational awareness to do so.”

Meanwhile, Bermuda Water Safety Council chairman Ralph Richardson urged residents to be extra vigilant with young children in or near the water.

“Fun around the water can easily lead to tragedy and untold grief for families through injury or premature loss of life of a loved one,” he said.

“Even though this summer season is yet young, there have already been incidences of near drownings. These were due to inattention by adults with young children.

“The Bermuda Water Safety Council would like to emphasise the need to properly supervise children when on the beach and shorelines and around public and private pools. Children can get into trouble quickly, even in shallow water. Adults must ensure that someone is responsible and carefully watching young children at all times. Sitting off and enjoying the beach party while the children run around unsupervised is a recipe for disaster.”

Diving in shallow water is “a very dangerous past time”, he warned.

“Numerous accidents happen each year, some leading to death or permanent disability. Many young lives have been forever changed as a result of diving accidents.

“So too is the danger around both private and public pools. Parents and guardians should accompany their young children at public pools, as supervision may not always be up to proper standards. In the end, parents and guardians must accept responsibility for any incident that involves those within their care.

“Private pools can be a special danger because of the familiarity of the surroundings and a sense of complacency that may set in. Not everyone has the same appreciation for the potential for accidents to occur. Young children do not have such appreciation and may venture beyond expected limits.”

Useful website: www.wsc.bm.

Inspector Robert Cardwell (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Bermuda Water Safety Council chairman Ralph Richardson (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm (Updated June 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm)

Put safety first this summer, police tell boaters

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