SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – With the July 4th holiday weekend approaching, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up patrols on the water to increase boating safety.
At Lake Brantley on Wednesday, Sheriff Dennis Lemma urged boaters and personal watercraft operators to slow down and reacquaint themselves with the rules of safe boating.
“Our personnel will be patrolling our lakes and rivers over the holiday weekend to ensure everyone has a safe and fun 4th of July,” Lemma said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida had 79 boating deaths in 2020, which is a year-to-year increase of 21%.
“Here in Seminole County, we were responsible for six of those fatalities and that is just an alarming number,” Lemma said. “It’s the largest increase in more than a decade.
Speed and driver impairment were the main causes of the deaths, while lack of wearing life jackets and inability to swim also contributed to the spike.
During patrols, deputies will be checking for safety equipment, including the proper number of personal flotation devices. While adults are not required to wear life jackets when boating, they’re encouraged for people who are not strong swimmers.
Deputies are also spreading a message of awareness for new and inexperienced boaters.
“Because of COVID-19, people have been buying boats and taking to our waterways in higher numbers for recreational use,” Lemma said. “With the July 4th holiday weekend upcoming, it is important that these newer boaters educate themselves on boating safety, as well as receive local knowledge of our waterways.”
In addition to increased patrols, the sheriff’s office said there will be a continued presence on the water through a partnership with FWC over the summer months.