Sheriff Pohlmann reminds everyone taking to the waters of St. Bernard to learn and obey the rules of boating safety, be on the lookout for other boats and always wear a life jacket

Posted: May 26th, 2016 | Filed under: SBSO News

Speed kills whether on water or land. And if you are on the water you need to be wearing a life jacket because it may save your life.

With summer fishing and boating about to go into high gear on St. Bernard Parish waterways, Sheriff James Pohlmann is reminding residents the chances for boating accidents and fatalities get higher with an increase in boaters.

“Be careful, slow down and learn and obey the rules of boating safety if you are going to be on the water,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

“There will be a lot of boats out there, especially on holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. and you should think in terms of there will be another boat coming in every turn or canal crossing,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said.

Going too fast to react to a situation is a common cause of boating accidents, he said. “Don’t speed and pay attention to your surroundings. Operate with caution.”

And it is absolutely important that everyone on board be wearing a personal flotation device, commonly called a life jacket, the sheriff said. “They are available at sporting goods stores or a department store. Everyone should be able to find one that fits.’’

While some people enjoy an alcohol drink it is important to refrain from overdrinking if you are going to be on a boat, Sheriff Pohlmann said.

People can be arrested for drinking and driving on a boat just like drivers of a vehicle on land, he said. And alcohol is a primary cause in nearly 25 percent of all fatal boating accidents nationally.

Statistics also show nearly 90 percent of the boating accidents recorded involve someone who hasn’t successfully completed a safe boating class, the sheriff said.

It is recommended that anyone operating a boat take a boating safety course. Just go online to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site and find the education section, which will have a boating safety course that is free.

For a list of state-approved safe boating courses visit:

Capt. Brian Clark, a retired state Wildlife and Fisheries agent, heads the Sheriff’s Office Marine Division.

Clark said safety on the water involves many things but foremost should be a standing rule that everyone on board a boat be wearing a personal flotation device. For more on state boating and life jacket regulations visit

“It’s required that children 16 and under wear a flotation device at all times and recommended that adults wear them also,’’ Clark said. Drowning remains the biggest cause of fatalities on the water and a life jacket being worn will save lives, he said.

Some boaters used to resist them because they were bulky and made it hard to get around on a boat, Clark said, but the ones made today are lightweight and easy to use.

Before leaving on a trip, Clark said, give a float plan to someone. “Tell someone where you are going and when you are expected back’’ so if you are overdue they can inform authorities.

Besides flotation devices, other basic rules for safety include a check of equipment before taking off. Remember to bring items including a cell phone and cell phone charger, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, proper clothing, enough food and water for a trip, a safety kit, sunglasses to guard against glare and a device that can be thrown to aid anyone who needs help in the water.

“Drink liquids. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated because the sun will take a lot out of you and slow reaction time,’’ Clark said.

And he said there is one other check-off: if you have a kill switch on the motor remember to use it if necessary.