ALABAMA (WHNT) — With the Fourth of July weekend getting closer, law enforcement urges citizens to make wise decisions and play it smart while celebrating the holiday.

Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division (MPD) are expecting a “tremendous” amount of people to head out onto the water throughout the state. ALEA encourages those with plans to be on the water to keep safety front of mind.

“Our goal is to protect those in the communities we serve and to ensure that recreational boaters, paddlers, fishermen, and others who visit our waters are able to enjoy their time with family and friends safely,” said ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor. “Each year, our Agency joins law enforcement agencies across the nation in a safety initiative known as Operation Dry Water (ODW). This safety campaign is scheduled closely to every Fourth of July holiday in an effort to educate boaters on the dangers of boating under the influence and reduce the number of crashes on Alabama’s waterways.”

Because the holiday falls on a Monday this year, ODW will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 1, and end at midnight on July 4.

ALEA’s MPD even developed a new slogan to help boaters easily remember to play it safe: “Be the G.O.A.T. in Your Boat and wear your PFD (Personal Floatation Device).”

“We want everyone who decides to enjoy one of Alabama’s waterways this Fourth of July
weekend to have the opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves,” says ALEA’s Director of Public Safety
Colonel Jimmy Helms. “However, everyone’s excitement and enthusiasm must be partnered with preparation and responsibility. Recently, we have seen far too many tragic events on Alabama waterways, which is why our Agency is so dedicated and passionate about boater safety as well as education.”

“Our Marine Patrol Troopers will be using targeted enforcement tactics as they patrol across the state’s waterways this holiday weekend,” Chief Steve Thompson of ALEA’s MPD said. “If you are found operating a vessel under the influence, you will be arrested and taken to jail. There will be zero tolerance.”

“It only takes a second for an exciting trip to the lake or beach to turn into a tragedy, that could ultimately cost an individual their life,” says Taylor. “Situational awareness is key, but being fully prepared while on the water is a necessity.

Taylor stresses the importance for everyone on the water to use an approved PFD while in or even near the water. “Expect the unexpected,” Taylor added.

“Anything can happen, [you] could slip and fall from a [boat] and be beneath the waters’ surface in a
matter of seconds,” says Taylor. “PFDs save lives and that is exactly what we want this upcoming Fourth of
July holiday weekend.”

Lastly, ALEA reminds citizens to keep a close eye on weather conditions before heading out on the water. For more information on boating safety tips, you can check ALEA’s website here.