Officers `catch' boaters staying safe on the water

May 2011 News

PANAMA CITY BEACH - Knowing a life jacket is safely tucked away under a seat is cold comfort to someone who has gone overboard.

This week, law enforcement agencies are marking National Safe Boating Week and the Wear It Florida campaign by encouraging people, children especially, to wear life jackets while on the water.

Thursday afternoon, lights flashing, law enforcement pulled up next to a rented pontoon boat in St. Andrew Bay to check for safety equipment. Those on the boat were fully prepared with the required one life jacket per person on board, and Abigale Price, 4, and Lauren Price, 5, were protected with life jackets on.

For those younger than 6, wearing a life jacket is required by law. But the two youngsters were rewarded with more than recognition from Capt. Ken Parramore of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for following the law. They also received coupons for free children's meals at The Red Elephant Pizza and Grill in Panama City.

This summer, the Bay County Marine Law Enforcement Alliance will look for other children out on the water wearing life jackets. Those who are will receive coupons to the restaurant.

The alliance of local law enforcement agencies - FWC, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Bay County Sheriff's Office, Florida Park Police and police departments in Lynn Haven, Panama City and Panama City Beach - works throughout the year to share information and joins forces on holiday weekends, Parramore said.

"It's all of us getting together, working together," he said.

This is the fourth year of the Wear It Florida campaign, Parramore said.

Not all children out on the water were as protected as the Prices.


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