Rhode Island Offers Free Boating Safety Course for Teens

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Law Enforcement (DEM DLE) is extending a special invitation to youths aged 13 to 17 for a comprehensive boating safety course set to take place on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19. Sponsored by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the two-day course will be held at DLE Station M (Marine Barracks) located at 150 Fowler Street, North Kingstown.

The initiative aims to equip young boaters with essential knowledge and skills to navigate Rhode Island’s waterways safely. Day one of the course will feature classroom instruction covering topics ranging from boating regulations to emergency communication and knot tying. The second day will see participants actively engaged in practical learning aboard a DLE patrol boat, including water rescues.

Environmental Police Officer (EPO) and Boating Safety Instructor Anthony Esposito emphasized the importance of the course, stating, “This is an in-depth course that will cover everything from boating registration to emergency procedures. Participants will even get to conduct water rescues on day two. It will be fun, but it’s for a serious purpose because the teens who take this class are Rhode Island’s future boaters, and they will make boating on the bay safer by having taken this class.”

Rhode Island boasts over 40,000 registered boats, with numerous visiting boats each year. However, warm weather months often witness boating accidents and emergencies, some leading to fatalities. Statistics from the United States Coast Guard reveal that drowning is the reported cause of death in 75% of all boating fatalities, with 86% of victims not wearing life jackets.

EPO Esposito highlighted the importance of life jackets, stating, “The key is the life jacket. A person who suffers swimming failure or loss of consciousness will stay afloat wearing a life jacket but will drown without one.”

Experts suggest that staying with the boat in the event of capsizing or falling overboard increases the likelihood of being spotted by rescuers. Swimming for shore is advised only if wearing a life jacket, rescue prospects are minimal, or one is close to shore and unable to climb back onto the boat.

For more information about the course, interested individuals can contact EPO Esposito at 401-222-1982 or via email at Anthony.Esposito@dem.ri.gov.




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