Ahoy! DEM Offers Youth Boating Safety Class May 18-19

Published on Wednesday, March 27, 2024

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) is offering a free, two-day boating safety class for youths ages 13 to 17 on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19. Sponsored by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the course will take place at DLE Station M (Marine Barracks), at 150 Fowler Street, North Kingstown. The first day will consist of classroom instruction and on the second day, participants will be in and around a DLE patrol boat learning by doing.

“This is an in-depth course that will cover everything from boating registration, regulations, safety equipment, operation, navigation, and emergency communication to knot tying — and participants will even get to conduct water rescues on day two,” said Environmental Police Officer (EPO) and Boating Safety Instructor Anthony Esposito. “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. If participants complete the course with flying colors, they’ll earn an RI Boating Safety Card. Ahoy!”

More than 40,000 boats are registered in Rhode Island, and the state welcomes many thousands more visiting boats each year. In warm weather months, DLE responds to many boating accidents and emergencies, some resulting in drownings and other deaths. A perennial challenge is boaters not wearing life jackets. Drowning is the reported cause of death in 75% of all boating fatalities, and of those who drowned, 86% were not wearing life jackets, according to United States Coast Guard statistics. 

Most boating fatalities are the result of capsizing or falls overboard, not collisions between boats running at high speed. Experts recommend that people who end up in the water stay with the boat, even if they can’t get back in. They are more likely to be seen by potential rescuers if they are next to a boat. A person should only swim for shore if wearing a life jacket, the likelihood of rescue is low, or they are close to shore and aren't able to climb back into or on top of the boat.

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

For information about the course, contact EPO Esposito at 401-222-1982 or Anthony.Esposito@dem.ri.gov.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.