Boaters by the thousands are heading to Ohio's lakes and waterways for the Memorial day weekend.
The Coast Guard and Cincinnati fire department are prepared to deal with intoxicated boaters along with search and rescue.
On Friday, a group of fire fighters began training for water rescue operations. District Fire Chief Tom Lakamp says they spent the day practicing maneuvers and pulling people out of the water from quick and agile zodiac boats. "The zodiac's response is for any life safety issue. If we have people in the water...its an easier platform to effect a rescue off the inflatable zodiac."
Lekamp says with more people on the river there's a greater chance of trouble especially in the evenings. "Late at night normally brings on the drinking and the boating and people are not using common sense. That's when time really counts and we have to be on our game."
Lakamp says boaters can help themselves by being prepared. "Watch the weather forecast, make sure you have enough flotation devices for everybody that's in your boat, make sure you keep an eye on your fuel so you don't run out of fuel and then don't...don't drink and boat."
Lt. Rob Reinhart says the Coast Guard's Cincinnati detachment has a couple of boats ready to deploy for search and rescue. "This weekend we expect a lot of boats. Its very nice weather, the river looks great, the Reds are doing great and Friday night fireworks can sometimes be problem between the recreational traffic and the commercial traffic interaction."
Reinhart says the Coast Guard also has a law enforcement function looking for intoxicated boaters and people being reckless. "The careless boating we see a lot of in the jet skiers. Sometimes they'll come too close, they'll be jumping the wakes of the passenger and the commercial vessels and we really want to discourage that."