FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Spokane County Promotes Boating Safety and Etiquette
SPOKANE COUNTY, August 2, 2019– Local boating enthusiasts and visitors take to Spokane County waters every day, because of our unique scenic vistas, proximity of our urban centers to the water, fishing, swimming, and other popular aquatic activities. Spokane County may be one of the most popular boating locations in the State, but it can be dangerous as well. Although we are in the middle of the boating season, Spokane County would like to remind boaters that our waters can drastically turn dangerous by quickly changing winds, swells, currents, visibility and water temperatures.
Local first responders regularly train for water rescues. The Sheriff’s Office has a dozen officers trained to patrol the county’s waters and make sure boaters are safe.
On behalf of the Spokane County Board of Commissioners, Chair of the Board, Mary Kuney states, “Our goal is to remind boaters to stay safe throughout the boating season and to be considerate of other boaters and those on the shore as well. Before you go out on the water, take time to learn about the weather conditions, whether there’ll be any significant winds, and whether there are currents to be prepared for. Also, prepare for the trip by visiting with family or friends about your plans and always have the proper equipment with you.”
There are five boats used by the Sheriff’s Office to regional lakes and rivers in the county. Although boating season typically starts in June, law enforcement agencies across the country take part in National Safe Boating Week the last week of May to promote awareness of water safety rules
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich adds, “We want people to enjoy our lakes and waterways. That’s one of the many reasons people live and play in Spokane County but we want everyone to be prepared, responsible, and most of all, safe. Water is very unforgiving when something goes very wrong.”
In Washington State, personal flotation devices must be worn at all times when boating. Spokane County law requires children under 12 to be wearing life jackets on all boats. The county also
has a blanket speed restriction of 50 mph during the day and 15 mph at night.
Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2017 and that 84.5 percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.
In addition, boaters are reminded of these other important laws regarding boating safety in Spokane County, which include:
No person shall operate a vessel in excess of wake speed within hundred feet of any shoreline.
No person shall operate a vessel on the Spokane River between the Little Spokane Confluence and the Nine Mile Dam in excess of wake speed.
No person shall operate a vessel on any waterway from one-half hour after sunset on one-half hour before sunrise at a speed in excess of fifteen miles per hour.
No person or persons shall engage in water skiing within one hundred feet of any boat launching ramp, motionless vessel, vessel underway, swimmer, buoy or shoreline.
No person operating a vessel shall follow behind a person (water skiing or being towed in any manner) closer than three hundred feet nor cross the towing vessels bow by less than two hundred feet, nor come within one hundred feet of the person being towed.
No person shall engage in water skiing or any other recreational activity involving the act of being towed by a vessel on any waterway from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise.