Boating Safety for All of Us with Alabama's Marine Police
A cold chill runs up most boaters' spines when they see an Alabama Marine Police boat. The fish cops have gotten a bad rap, because most of us really don't understand what they do, and why they do it. Sergeant Jody Kelly of the Alabama Marine Police explains, "Our job is to ensure the safety of boaters, anglers and swimmers."
Here are some rules to know about when you come to Alabama's Gulf of Mexico:
- “You must have wearable life jackets for everyone on board to fit the person it's supposed to protect. For instance, you can't have a child's life jacket for an adult or an adult's life jacket for a child.
- “You need a throwable ring, buoy or cushion to throw to anyone in the water until he can be rescued.
- “You must have a fire extinguisher onboard, if the boat's fuel tank is contained inside the boat.
- “You are required to have a kill switch attached to the person driving the boat if your boat is less than 24 feet in length, over 50 horsepower and doesn't have a permanently-affixed top. Then if the driver is thrown out of the boat, the kill switch stops the boat immediately.
- “You must idle your boat, jet ski or sailboat until you come to the next Resume Speed sign, if you see an Idle Speed Only or a No Wake sign. Numbers of boats and swimmers are in these places.
- “Visitors often come to our region and don't understand why they can't hang their feet in the water while the boat is moving. But if the boat hits an underwater obstruction, the boat operator will be thrust forward with his hand on the throttle. With the resistance of the water and the boat jumping forward, the person with his or her feet in the water may be thrown out of the boat.
- “You can't drive a boat if you drink alcoholic beverages. If you're intoxicated while operating a boat, you'll get a free ride to jail with one of our fine Marine Police officers.
- “Any child 8 years old or under has to wear a life jacket, whether they want to or not.
- “You must have a boater's license marked on your driver's license to operate a vessel. This rule has been in effect since 1994, but some of our visitors aren't aware that you need this license to operate a boat.”