Be safe out there

WyGFD reminds boaters to be safe during holiday weekend

TORRINGTON – Despite the weather early this week, at some point in the near future, summer will be here. 

It’s most people’s favorite time of the year. It’s the time for vacations, road trips and, of course, lake days. Whether you’re heading out to the lake or river for a day of fun on the water, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your time on the water is as safe as possible. 

According to Sarah DiRienzo, Public Outreach Specialist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, one of the main concerns for game wardens in the summer time is inebriated boaters. The penalty for boating under the influence parallels the penalties for driving under the influence and could result in jail time, steep fines and the loss of privileges. 

“Boating under the influence is very real and serious,” DiRienzo said. “Alcohol use is known to be the leading factor of recreational boater deaths.  It is really important to keep in mind, especially with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. It is really crucial for safety. Our game wardens take that very seriously. It is extremely important.”

It’s also important to make sure boats have the required amount of safety gear. According to DiRienzo, there must be a life jack of the proper size available for each person on board the boat, and some vessels are required to have flotation buoys and fire extinguishers, as well. 

“We have a lot of requirements that are there to keep people safe, depending on the type of watercraft they have,” she said. “If it’s 16 feet or longer, we require you to have a throw-able floatation device. They must have a minimum of one US Coast Guard approved device and that includes ring buoys and float cushions.

“If there’s a boat that has any type of inboard engine, a permanently installed fuel tank, and enclosed living space or double bottom setter not sealed to the whole or any compartments like fuel tanks that store any combustible materials, you have to have a fire extinguisher onboard. Depending on the size of the boat, you might need multiple fire extinguishers.

“If you have a motorized boat, lights are required when you’re boating from sunset to sunrise. All motorized boats are required to display a red light and a green light. The red light goes in the port side and the green light goes on the starboard side. They need to be visible 360 degrees. The type of lights differ, depending on the size the boat.”

Another requirement that can be forgotten during a fun weekend on the lake is that boat operators must be at least 16 years old. This includes jet skis. 

“There are legal age requirements for operating a motorized boat,” DiRienzo said. “The operator must be at least 16 years old. If they’re under the age of 16 they can operate the motor boat as long as they are accompanied by an adult who’s at least 18 years old. That means they’re physically on the motorized craft and are responsible for the operation of it. There isn’t an age restriction to operate a non-motorized boat, like a canoe or kayak, anyone can row those.”

For more information the WyGFD boating regulations,


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