First responders caution safety on waterways during Memorial Day weekend – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – While boaters head to the South Florida waterways on Memorial Day weekend, safe sailing is a top priority for local first responders.

Speaking to 7News on Friday, Maj. Alfredo Escanio, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the boats would be out in large numbers in good weather.

“It rises. It’s probably the busiest vacation weekend in the state, ”he said.

Every agency in South Florida is prepared for the vacation. You will be traveling at full speed to keep people safe.

“It’s a very fun weekend and we should all enjoy it, but it can be very dangerous and deadly in the blink of an eye,” said Michael Barrios, Navy patrol with the Miami-Dade Police.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Capt. Jib Webster said there are plenty of boaters out there who can help.

“Have someone in charge, someone who doesn’t drink, who can be responsible for everyone on your ship,” he said.

A 7News crew joined the crew of a Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue boat on Friday.

They passed some of the busiest places, like a sandbar called Triangle.

“People like to raft their boats together and enjoy wading in shallow water,” said Webster.

But shallow water can also be dangerous because people don’t know the depths.

“We’ve had two cases where people were paralyzed who did just that,” said Webster.

In the Haulover Sandbar, the US Coast Guard crews limit the number of boats to five to keep the crowd down.

This time last year, COVID wiped out the holiday weekend. The beaches were empty.

But the crowd is back and many of them have new toys with them.

Personal watercraft, a popular pandemic purchase, are racing through the waters this weekend.

North Bay Village Police Officer Kenny Hendon last week discussed the increase in JetSkis and WaveRunners with Karen Hensel, 7News’ investigative reporter.

“It’s definitely elevated. Has it gotten much worse? Yes. There was a lot more out here. Ninety-five percent of the problems out here are with these rentals, ”said Hendon.

The message from first responders is clear: if you are on a boat or personal watercraft, please be safe.

“We want you to come out and enjoy the weekend, enjoy the waterways, but do it responsibly,” said Escanio.

Rescue workers will check the ships to ensure that every single person on board has a life jacket.

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