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Game Wardens and State Police Urge Vermonters to Boat Safely this Fourth of July Weekend

The state of Vermont is reminding all Vermonters to boat safely this Fourth of July weekend.

Recently released 2023 U.S. Coast Guard data show that alcohol use remains the primary known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths.  In addition, 85 percent of people who drowned in a recreational boating incident were not wearing a life jacket.

The Vermont Warden Service, Vermont State Police and other local law enforcement agencies will be partnering with the National Association of Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard by participating in Operation Dry Water heightened awareness and enforcement weekend which takes place July 4 – 6, 2024.

Operation Dry Water is a national awareness and enforcement campaign focused on reducing the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger, more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.

“It’s always important to remind people that operating a vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and can lead to serious injuries, death, property damage and legal consequences,” Game Warden Sgt. Jenna Reed said.

“The July Fourth holiday means time on the water for boaters in Vermont and across the United States.  With an increased public presence on the water, the data show an increase in the number of boating incidents and fatalities that take place during this time.  We want everyone to be safe and responsible while having a good time on Vermont’s waterways,” she added.

“Wearing a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket is one of the easiest steps you can take to improving your safety on the water,” said Vermont State Police Boating Law Administrator Al Johnson.  “New life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange PFDs of the past.  There are also innovative options such as inflatable life jackets that improve mobility and flexibility for activities including boating, fishing, paddling or hunting, and the new styles are much cooler in the warmer weather.”

VSP and the Warden Service encourage residents and visitors to enjoy Vermont’s beautiful and diverse waterways this summer. While you’re out there, take pictures, make memories, and for your safety, boat sober and wear your life jacket.