Staying safe on the water during Independence Day weekend

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. – Independence Day weekend usually means increased traffic for North Alabama’s waterways. The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies are out in full force this weekend as part of Operation Dry Water.

“It’s a national awareness weekend to focus on safe boating on the water,” said Morgan County Sheriffs Office Public Information Officer Michael Swafford.

Last year was Alabama’s deadliest boating season in two decades. This year, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said they are focused on keeping people safe.

“Just like on the roadways when there’s more traffic, there’s more opportunities for things to go wrong,” Swafford said.

The sheriff’s office said the water is unforgiving and the best thing you can do is plan ahead.

“What do you do if the engine loses power? What do you do if someone falls in the water? That’s why you’ve got to have a vest for each person on your vessel. You have to have something to throw to someone should they fall overboard,” Swafford said.

Swafford added law enforcement just wants to make sure boaters have what they need to stay safe.

“We’re looking for other boaters who might be doing something wrong. We’re looking for DUIs, whether they need a fire extinguisher, whether they need a device they can throw to someone. Goes back to the life vest. Make sure they don’t have more people on the vessel than they should, and those types of things so we are out in full force just trying to keep the water safe,” Swafford said.

Marine patrol does their best to be vigilant, but preventing accidents comes down to each boater realizing the seriousness of water safety for themselves and others.

Operation Dry Water is year-round, with a heightened awareness and enforcement during Independence Day weekend.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office is joined by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Law Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard.

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