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Officials urge boating safety ahead of Memorial Day weekend

The Old Saybrook Police Department's Marine Division is ready to patrol the area as people flock to the shoreline.

OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. — The unofficial start of summer is here and that means people will be flocking to Connecticut's shoreline.

"It’s going to be a busy weekend down here on the shoreline both on land and on water so we want to make sure that everyone is safe," said Capt. Jeff DePerry, head of the Old Saybrook Police Department's Marine Division.

He said they are ready to patrol the area.

"We will be out there this weekend including on Monday," DePerry said.

While people will be attending parties and barbecues, police want to remind everyone that if you’re drinking or using marijuana, you should never get behind the wheel.

The department set the tone on Friday, with a DUI enforcement out on the roads.

"Boating under the influence is definitely one of the biggest safety factors," DePerry said. "Alcohol, marijuana definitely affect your reaction time. We want to make sure that people are operating boats and vehicles safely."

At the beginning of the season, one of the biggest concerns is that people are still trying to get the hang of being out on the water again.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s boating division said it’s important to make a plan and let someone know about it.

"File a float plan so that your family knows where you are and when you’re gonna be back," said Emily Picard, with DEEP.

While it’s expected to be warm the next few days it’s important to remember the water is not quite there yet.

"You always want to dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature when you’re going out," Picard said. "Keep in mind when you’re out on the water especially when you’re out on the sound the temperature is going to be a lot colder."

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People are also encouraged to wear life jackets. The law requires anyone in canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or stand-up paddleboards to wear a life jacket until May 31.

There will be lifeguards at six state park beaches this weekend, Hammonasset, Rocky Neck, Silver Sands, Sherwood Island, Black Rock and Squantz Pond.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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