Seven people have drowned in Colorado state lakes, reservoirs and rivers since January. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, none of those who died were wearing life jackets. To prevent even more fatalities, rangers are out on the waterways throughout the holiday weekend conducting inspections.
"We ask that everyone boat safe, smart and boat sober," Officer Ben Vinci with Parks and Wildlife said. "We always ask that you have good equipment, that it's in good condition. Make sure you have the proper safety equipment."
Vinci and his colleagues will be on the water pulling boaters over to ask them a series of questions.
"We want to know if they have life vests in the boat, if the minors in the boat are wearing them, Vinci said. "We ask to see the fire extinguisher. We want to check it to make sure it's coast guard approved, fully charged and ready to go. We're looking to make sure the driver is of legal age and we want to make sure there is a sound producing device. It's also important that they know where everything is so if there is an emergency they can get to it quickly."
Vinci says most of the people out on the water know the rules and have all of the needed equipment and devices they need. But, he says there are always those who decide they want to be irresponsible and don't consider the safety of others.
"We stopped a guy because he was allowing his twelve year old son to drive his vessel," Vinci said. "You have to be 16 years old to drive. We recommend a boater safety course, but they can still drive. Fourteen and fifteen year olds can drive only if they complete the boater safety course. All it takes is just one accident to hurt or kill someone. Our job is to do our best to make sure that doesn't happen."
For more information on boating safety, Parks and Wildlife officials is encouraging the public to check out the following website: http://parks.state.co.us/Boating/BoatingSafety/
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