Boater Safety Tips

Did you know that Anne Arundel County has 533 miles of shoreline, the most of any County in the Country?  This abundance of shoreline makes it easy for us to spend a lot of time enjoying the water.  Whether we’re exploring the shoreline on foot, paddling into hidden coves on kayak or canoe, or out powerboating or sailing in the Chesapeake Bay, we must always consider our safety first!

As folks get excited about boating season and enjoying a summer day out on the water, they need to remember their safety and that of their passengers.  Here are some helpful points to remember before you head out on the water:

·       Check your life jackets for holes and tears – you don’t want to need them and find that a mouse got into the hold over the winter! 

·       Check your safety flares and other safety equipment and make sure they’re in good working order.  By the way, did you know you can drop off expired marine flares of any kind at any county fire station?  This will keep them out of the trash and we can properly dispose of them in a safe (both personal safety and environmentally safe) manner.

·       Perform necessary and maintenance.  A broken hose can cause a boat to sink – we’ve seen it happen! 

·       Watch the weather and use good judgement. If storms are showing up on your phone’s weather app, plan to head back early. 

·       Never boat under the influence.  Just don’t.   

·       Know the rules of the waterway.  Take a boater’s safety class and use resources available online.

·       Know your limitations.  This is both for your vessel as well as your personal limitations.  Don’t try to cross the bay in a skiff, and don’t try to swim across the river if you’re not a seasoned open water swimmer. 

Even if you take all precautions, accidents and emergencies do happen.  And we’ll be there to help – in all kinds of weather.  Your Anne Arundel County Fire Fighters have a Marine Operations Division consisting of two boats based out of Sandy Point and Shady Side.

The Marine Division has 40 members and all of us are trained at the University of Maryland Fire Rescue Institute.  Fire Fighters must have earned a Mate 2 designation (at a minimum) to be considered crew on the Vessel.  After achieving the Mate 2 designation, a Fire Fighter can qualify as a Motor Vessel Operator which includes Fire Officer Training (Fire Officer 1) and a pumps class as we do supply water for land-based fire operations should the need arise. This is in addition to the training and certifications required of us as Professional Fire Fighters.    We hold training missions twice a week on the boats, and when we’re not on the boat, we’re doing table top lessons such as charting and knot tying.  We truly love what we do.  Please do take the time to prepare for boating season and follow these tips.  Although we love meeting fellow boat enthusiasts, we don’t want to have to meet you in an emergency situation!