As sure as there is warmer weather around the corner, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division is reminding to use safe practices out on the water.
First, they urge always wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). There must be at least one properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD for each person onboard a boat or raft. Children 12 and younger must wear a U.S Coast Guard-approved PFD at all times.
Secondly, water enthusiasts are asked to select a class of river according to their skill level when floating the Rogue River. Do not raft alone, near dams or outlets. Stay alert for stumps, snags and other objects that could pose a potential hazard, particularly in swift water. Look for a V-shaped pattern on the surface of the water. Often, this wrinkled water signals the presence of potentially dangerous objects below the surface. If you capsize in swift water, stay with your boat. If the boat sinks, float feet-first downstream on your back until you can swim to shore. Have an emergency plan in case of emergency.
Always make sure safety equipment on board is up to date and ready to use. If a boat has any enclosed compartments or a false floor it must have a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher. Make sure it is charged and accessible. Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries. Keep maps, flares, and a first aid kit on board. Make sure you have an anchor and can properly use it. Improper anchoring may cause fatal accidents.
Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line at the boat ramp. Cold water temperatures, particularly in spring and fall, increase the risk of hypothermia.
Boating under the Influence is dangerous. Alcohol’s effects on judgment, vision, balance and coordination are amplified on the water, increasing the likelihood of boating accidents. Plus, boating under the influence of intoxicants (BUII) is illegal in Oregon and deputies can arrest for observed impairment below 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
Every year, southern Oregon waterways are the scene for a number of boating or swimming mishaps. Authorities say many of these accidents can either be avoided or minimized by observing water safety tips.