As temperatures rise – and with them, the number of boaters on Sacramento’s waterways – police are stressing the importance of being prepared while afloat.
The Police Department’s Marine Unit will be on the region’s rivers every weekend this summer, helping boaters in crisis and looking for troublemakers. The marine units from the Yolo and Sacramento sheriff’s departments also will be out in force, guaranteeing a law enforcement presence on the waterways every day of the week, according to authorities.
Above all else, police emphasized the importance of limiting alcohol consumption on the water. Drinking while inside a boat is legal, but the boat’s driver must adhere to the same blood-alcohol limit as the driver of a car. And impairment, coupled with heat and a lack of sufficient water on board, can lead to medical calls.
“It’s your equipment and your safety and the safety of your passengers, so it would be your best interest to stay hydrated and (be prepared),” said Officer Traci Trapani.
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Trapani said all three of the drowning incidents that Sacramento police have responded to so far this summer have involved alcohol consumption.
She and her partner, Officer Jason Warren, also stressed the need to make sure each passenger has a life jacket available – yes, officers wear them, too – and that a fire extinguisher is on board. State law requires all boats to carry fire extinguishers.
And if your vessel is just coming out of winter storage, make sure you check fluid levels and that the engine is working properly.
In the water, swimmers should be aware of submerged obstacles such as tree branches, and a strong current that can easily tire even the best of swimmers, said police Officer Michele Gigante.