SIDNEY – Safety around water has become a hot topic with last week’s flooding and the upcoming Memorial Day weekend when the boating season begins.
“This last weekend was very difficult for a lot of citizens in Shelby County with high water in their basements,” Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart said during his weekly interview.
People not obeying road closed signs and other warnings endangers lots and lots of people and ties up emergency services when individuals have to be rescued.
“A lot of people did what they were asked to do, but some people didn’t obey signs,” Lenhart said. “We will have bad weather again, and I urge people to obey those signs and work with each other.”
Incidents such as a car crashing into a washed out culvert show the dangers of ignoring warning signs, Lenhart said.
“We were lucky no one was killed,” he said.
Water will continue to be a big safety issue as Memorial Day approaches, a time when traditionally a lot of people are on the water at places such as Lake Loramie.
“We want people to have a good time using the water,” Lenhart said.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Loramie Police Department, McLean Township and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have created a cooperative effort for patrols on the water and on the roads around the lake.
“We’ll have deputies that are assigned and village policemen assigned to the lake throughout the summer,” Lenhart said.
Each year hundreds of Americans die in accidents on lakes.
“There are over 700 persons every year in America that drown because of being on the lake and not doing what they’re supposed to do,” Lenhart said. “The vast majorities of those deaths are alcohol related.”
In Ohio, 18 people died in 16 boating accidents last year. Eleven accidents were on power boats, two were on canoes and kayaks, two were on paddle boats and one was on a sailboat. Ten fatal incidents were reported last year at Lake Erie, three on other lakes, two on rivers and one on a pond.
Lenhart said boaters should have tools such as flashlights, duct tape, a small bucket, whistle, rope, garbage bags, fire extinguisher and life jackets on their vessels.
“Have a life jacket that actually fits you,” he said.
This time of the year also is a good time for safety checks.
“Make sure the boat is marine worthy,” Lenhart said. “This is a good time at the beginning of the year to do checks on that.”
While Lake Loramie is relatively small, boaters also should be aware that storms can quickly pop up.
“Storms have come up very, very quickly,” Lenhart said. “Be aware of weather and rough water out there.”
Ultimately, Lenhart stressed boaters should be weather aware, have life jackets on board, stay away from alcohol while boating and be safe.
“It’s about prevention and it’s about safety so we’re looking forward to being out there and working with the citizens,” he said.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.