YCSO advises social distancing for boaters, offers safety tips

A boat, in which the younger passengers are all wearing life jackets, makes its way slowly down the Colorado River early Thursday morning.

With Yuma County waterways open to the public and the Memorial Day holiday weekend just days away, many area residents are planning on spending their time enjoying the county’s rivers and lakes.

Although restrictions have eased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is still encouraging responsible recreation by asking individuals to continue to follow social distancing guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Yuma County Public Health Department even while outdoors.

YCSO spokesperson Lt. Sam Pavlak said whether you are lounging on a sand bar, hanging out at a beach, playing in the river or having a cookout, to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more people

Pavlak also recommends remaining at least six feet apart from each other whenever possible.

“We want people to enjoy themselves, we are just asking that they be careful and do what they can to help because cases of COVID-19 are still being reported,” Pavlak said.

YCSO deputies, along with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, will also be increasing patrols on the lakes and waterways throughout the summer months.

Some of the behavior deputies will be watching for on the water are reckless operation, bow riding, and other violations that risk the safety of operators and/or riders.

YCSO reminds people of the following tips:

• Remember to use common sense when operating a boat or jet ski. This means operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas.

• Be alert at all times, and be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there for one reason only—to ensure your own boating safety.

• Avoid alcohol when operating a vessel. Operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could cause serious injury and even death to you or others.

• Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later and having a designated sober operator/driver. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved.

For more information regarding the Arizona boating laws and responsibilities, visit the Arizona Game & Fish Department website at www.azgfd.com/Boating or to download the Boater’s Handbook, visit https://assets.kalkomey.com/boater/pdfs/handbook/az_handbook_entire.pdf

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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