ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Many can't recall a more deadly afternoon in Maryland as storms popped up around the region.
“I can't remember a worse day," said Col. Robert Ziegler, the superintendent for Maryland's Natural Resources Police. "In the matter of seven hours we lost six people.”
On the water there are a lot of things we have control of, how well equipped your boat is for safety, wearing your life vest and control your drinking are just a few but, there is one thing no one has control of.... the weather. It can change quickly when you're on the water, with storms sneaking up on boaters.
But, that's what seemed to happen last Saturday. There's one thing the six who died had in common....
“There were no life jackets,” Ziegler said.
If you’re on the water you should wear a life jacket. There are life jackets for every boating activity including ones for dogs. According to Safeboat campaign, of the boating accident victims that drowned in 2017, 85percent were not wearing a life jacket.
Ziegler tells us you can't handle weather on the water the same as we do on land.
“When you're out on the bay it's a whole different story,” Ziegler said. “You have choppy water, small vessels are compromised quicker by those kind of weather changes and kayaks and paddle boarders obviously even more so.”
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“Make sure that before you depart the dock on your boat you understand what's going to happen with the weather for the entire day,” said Coast Guard Captain Joe Loring, “not just in the next 20 minutes or an hour.”
You don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money on electronics and weather tracking devices for your boat, you have one of the best ways to keep an eye on the weather right here in your pocket.
Weather apps work quite well now and give you almost real time information to make your decisions but, you have to use that information wisely before you get into trouble.
“Good common sense trumps technology,” said Tom Wilson, a local boater. “When you see a storm brewing, when you feel that weather change and especially Don when the wife says “It's time to go”, it's time to pull anchor.
His first mate was right, they got home just as the lighting started.
Col. Ziegler has a simple request for boaters on Maryland waters.
“…And all we're asking people to do is just take common sense, very rudimentary safety precautions that will keep you alive,” Zielger said.