Blue Water Beckons Boaters

Oregon’s waterways are crowded this summer, and the Oregon State Marine Board is asking boaters to help make this year safer than last year.

“Watch out for others and share the water,” said Randy Henry, Boating Safety Program Manager for the Oregon State Marine Board. “It’s not uncommon to have motorboats, paddlers, swimmers, and waders on the same piece of water, which requires everyone to slow down and pay attention.” Based on a review of last year’s incidents, Henry offers these recommendations:

  • Marked Swim Areas: It is illegal to operate a motorized or nonmotorized boat in a marked swim area. When near a swim area, motorboat operators should slow down. The boat’s wake can impact swimmers or people near the water’s edge. Also, if the boat operator loses control, even for a moment, the boat could enter the swim area.
  • Unmarked Swim Areas: Boaters should use extreme caution in areas where swimmers, waders, and others congregate. Careless operation of a powerboat could result in charges against the operator. Conversely, swimmers should make themselves seen and avoid swimming in busy boating areas.
  • Engine Cut Off Switches (ECOS): Most motorized boats have these devices installed and boat operators should use them. The device cuts the engine power if the operator falls overboard or away from the controls. The ECOS lanyard should be attached to your wrist, not your life jacket. This is because incidents can occur when an operator removes his or her life jacket with the lanyard attached. Shut off the motor BEFORE adjusting your life jacket or clothing.
  • Boating Under the Influence: Never use alcohol, drugs or marijuana products while boating. It is illegal for any operator to be impaired, even from prescription drugs. Wait until you are back on shore for the day to enjoy a cold one. While boating, drink plenty of water and stay alert.
  • Always wear a life jacket: US Coast Guard approved, properly fitted life jackets would have saved many lives last year. Many victims knew how to swim but were overcome by exhaustion or cold water. The Oregon State Marine Board encourages all boaters – young and old alike – to buy a good quality, comfortable life jacket, and wear it when boating.

Henry adds, “We’re also very concerned about fire this year. We’re in a historic drought, experienced historic high temperatures, and people are outdoors in force. Cigarettes and unattended or smoldering campfires are just two things that can turn the river side into an inferno. Fireworks, exploding targets, tracer rounds, sky lanterns, and other devices are prohibited on many public lands. Please abide by rules, be cautious, and have a safe time out there.”