Cleveland – The U.S. Coast Guard is gearing up for a busy holiday weekend. During the 4th of July, more boaters are out on the water to enjoy fireworks displays. Officers will be enforcing a security zone around firework events and doing inspections to make sure boaters have required equipment onboard.
"It's always a good idea before you get underway on a boat to check your gear through and through," says Petty Officer Third Class, Rashad Lockhart, with the Cleveland station. "Have a contingency plan, a backup plan, if my radio goes down, my battery is dead, have another radio, have a cell phone, know who to call. Educate everyone that's coming onboard where everything is."
Lockhart says boaters need flares, a fire extinguisher, whistle, and a working horn and radio. He also suggests wearing a life jacket at all times.
Officers will also keep an eye out for drunken boaters. It isn't illegal to drink alcohol on a boat but the person operating it can't be drunk.
"It's just like driving a car, it lowers everything, your reflex time, your inhibitions everything," says Lockhart. "It slows down everything and makes it more dangerous to drive. On top of that, it dehydrates you. So you're already out in the hot sun getting dehydrated the more and more you drink, and that can make things dangerous."