Osceola County Sheriff, marine officer give lake safety tips

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Simple safe boating tips can make the difference between a fun time in the water and a dangerous accident.

Sheriff Jim Crawford of Osceola County said the Independence Day weekend was an extremely busy time, as the holiday and warm weather means plenty of people out on local lakes.

“It’s busy, but in general our weekend patrols went pretty well,” Crawford said of how hectic the holiday weekend was for marine officers.

Crawford, who worked as a marine officer for the county for four years before running for sheriff, said several tips could make people on the water safer, such as driving a boat counter-clockwise in any given lake as opposed to having numbers of boats speeding around the water in several different directions.

“If everybody ran their boats counter-clockwise as their supposed to, it would be a lot easier, but it doesn’t always work like that,” Crawford said.

Crawford emphasized the importance of always wearing a life jacket while on a boat for safety.

It also is critical for two people to be on a boat while someone is water skiing: one person driving the craft, and another watching the person on the water skis. A boat driver watching behind the craft to check on the skier could potentially be extremely dangerous, Crawford said.

Dakota Saez, the department’s marine/off-road vehicle officer, said the majority of residents on lakes have been acting safely over the course of the past month he’s been the county marine officer.

“Most people have been doing pretty well.” Saez said. “They’re just out to have a good time, not trying to cause trouble.”

In addition to recommending life jackets when one is on a boat, Saez said boaters MUST watch out for swimmers and noted people with Jet Skis should not try to get close to boats.