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Deputies Urge Boating Safety For Season
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Hoping to make the 2005 boating season safe and enjoyable for all recreational boaters, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department has issued a checklist of sorts to help meet that goal.

First, said department spokesman Les Garcia, is for boaters to check all safety equipment on their vessel before heading out on the water.

"Life jackets are a must," Garcia said. "If they are badly worn, torn or damaged, replace them."

Life jackets must be approved by the US Coast Guard and be the correct size for the wearer. All watercraft must have a life jacket for each person on board. Children 11-years-old and younger must be wearing their life jacket any time the vessel is underway and deputies recommend that all children wear a life jacket the entire time that they are near the water.

Additional flotation devices may be required depending on the size of the vessel.

"Additionally, boaters need to check, that their fire extinguisher is fully charged and within reach if needed," said Garcia. "Lighting equipment also needs to be checked in the event night operation is required."

Deputies are also urging boaters to be aware of their alcohol consumption. California Boating Law prohibits boaters from operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and just as with a motor vehicle, .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the legal limit to be considered too intoxicated to operate a vessel.

"The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department is committed to the public's safety and well being on its waterways," said Garcia. "Due to the remote areas of the Delta that are not accessible by land based emergency services, deputies assigned to the Boating Safety Unit have all received medical training in the event a medical emergency arises."

Garcia said the deputies are now certified Emergency Aid Responders, capable of rendering skills similar to that of an Emergency Medical Technician. All of the enforcement boats are now equipped with defibrillators.

During 2004, the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department made 38 arrests for Boating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs and responded to 70 boating accidents.