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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Gears Up for National Safe Boating Week, May 20-26

Natural Resources Police and Partners Remind All that Life Jackets Save Lives

Photo of police vehicle with life jackets

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

As boating season kicks into high gear, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is encouraging all waterway users – whether boating, kayaking, swimming, or fishing – to take proper precautions on the water. The department and its partners will provide opportunities to promote the use of personal flotation devices and other lifesaving habits and equipment throughout May and into the summer. 

All waterway enthusiasts can participate in the worldwide Wear Your Life Jacket at Work Day on May 19, followed by National Safe Boating Week, a national awareness campaign that encourages waterway users to make the most of their adventure by being responsible. Given the importance of waterway recreation in our state, the Maryland Natural Resources Police is a long-time partner in these efforts.

“We want to eliminate fatalities on the waterways, which more often result when people don’t have or use personal flotation devices,” said Maryland Natural Resources Police Boater Safety Lead Donna Seymour. “If you end up in the water, life jackets can give you more time to be rescued and increase your chances of survival.”

In 2022, Maryland had 132 reportable boating accidents, resulting in 48 injuries and 11 fatalities. Of those fatalities, only two were wearing a life jacket.

This year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police has placed a kiosk near the Sandy Point State Park marina where visitors can borrow a life jacket if they don’t have one and return it later. Sandy Point is one of Maryland’s busiest state parks during the summer, where each year hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors swim in the Chesapeake Bay and launch boats, kayaks, canoes, and personal watercraft. The life jacket lending station is a pilot program to assure that all have access to this essential, lifesaving equipment. 

To help spread the message about being prepared, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources invites all state, county, and municipal police and fire companies in Maryland to submit videos of their members wearing their U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets to a regular work day. Winning submissions will be featured on the Department of Natural Resources website and social media. 

First responders around the state routinely handle or partner with Maryland Natural Resource Police and the U.S. Coast Guard to respond to waterway emergency calls – and filming a video promoting life jackets is one more way they can help. Complete rules and entry instructions are on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website. Deadline for submission is 5 p.m. on June 30, 2023.