Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Thousands of Central New Yorkers hit the water this holiday weekend, most safely and responsibly . However, if you don't check your safety equipment from last year, you could be unprepared for an emergency and end up with a citation.
NewsChannel 9 rode along with the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department’s Navigation Unit on Monday as they patrolled the waterways, looking for any signs of trouble.
Deputies spotted a child rushing to put his life jacket on just as the family noticed the Sheriff’s patrol boat.
The Navigation Unit always stays on the look out, making sure kids under 12 are wearing their life jackets. And they’ll take the time to make sure there are enough life jackets on the boat for every person on board.
“A lot of fatalities for boat accidents is drowning. Swimming, drowning, everything and it's all because of life jackets. So that's a very serious thing and if they don't have enough life jackets on board, that's something that we'd have to terminate their voyage and bring them back to shore,” explained Deputy James McKenna, Onondaga County Navigation Unit.
If you’re pulled over, deputies check other safety equipment, like the fire extinguisher and safety flares.
Onondaga County has four boats and three jet skis for patrol. Deputies say the patrol's main purpose is for education, not arrests.
And if you fish, you also need to be prepared for a stop by the Environmental Conservation Police who ride along with the Sheriffs Department.
“When we go check boats…while [the sheriff's department] is looking for people drinking and driving I’ll be looking to see if they’re fishing and if they have their fishing license, if they have any illegal fish, short fish, or things of that nature,” said Chrisman Starczek, with the DEC's Environmental Conservation Police.
Your fishing license needs to be renewed every year. Deputies suggest taking that time to check all safety equipment on board so you'll be prepared for an emergency.
On the web --Quick Reference Guide to what you should be carrying on your boat in NY State
.Information on Fishing Licenses in New York State.