'A fun-filled day can turn tragic from drinking while boating'

'A fun-filled day can turn tragic from drinking while boating'
File photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The holiday weekend is fast approaching and for some of us that means taking the boat out on the water, even if the weather isn't exactly what we had hoped for.

The Memorial Day weekend is typically the kick-off for the boating season and state officials want to remind folks to stay safe.

Alcohol and Boating Don't Mix

"A fun-filled day can turn tragic from drinking while boating," said Ashley Massey with the Oregon State Marine Board. "It impairs your judgment and you take risks you normally wouldn't. We see a lot of reckless operation and behavior, not to mention falling overboard, when people consume alcohol. And many of the accident victims are passengers. The operator is not only responsible for their boat, but their passengers' safety too."

The consequences are harsh, too, especially in Oregon. "Reckless operation is taken very seriously," said Massey. "We have to be tough on violators to keep Oregon's waterways safe for everyone because innocent people are usually the victims."

The best thing you can do is leave the alcohol at home or on the shore. And the Oregon State Marine Board advises that if you dock somewhere to eat and choose to drink alcohol with your meal, wait at least an hour for each drink you consume before you get back on the water.

The Water is Still Cold

The water temperatures are still pretty low this time of year, even if summer is just around the corner. Snow melt and mountain runoff will keep waterways cold and dangerous for the next few months.

And did you know that cold water can rob your body of heat 32 times faster than cold air? That's how hypothermia can set in so quickly.

It's a good idea to wear a personal flotation device while out on the water. It'll give you a fighting chance if you somehow end up going overboard.