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Sheriff's Marine Unit getting the word about water safety

Sheriff's Marine Unit getting the word about water safety

SPOKANE, Wash. - There have been a couple of close calls on Spokane County waterways in 2014 but so far there have been no accidental deaths. The Spokane County Sheriff's Marine Unit wants to keep it that way.

The most recent water rescue happened Monday when, according to Spokane Police, a man misjudged the temperature and current and found himself in need of saving near the Division Street Bridge.

A day out on the lake is supposed to be fun but before hitting the water there are some things you should keep in mind, which is why, like they do every year, Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin and the Marine Unit are trying to educate people on the do's and don'ts of safety on our area's water ways.

For example, no matter the size of your vessel, you should have a life jacket for everyone on board. Depending on where you are, you don't always have to wear it, but having one and an audible device could mean the difference between life and death.

If you're on the Spokane River you must wear a life jacket at all times.

"That's the most common violation that we have on our water ways, personal flotation device," Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Chamberlin said.

The last weekend in June, Spokane County is also participating in Operation Dry Water.

"All the Marine units nationwide are going to be out on the water ways enforcing BUI laws making sure there are no impaired boaters on the water," Chamberlin said.

In Washington state, boating under the influence – or BUI – is treated the same as DUIs out on the roadway.

"Point zero eight is the legal limit. Now does that mean you can drink up to a point seven nine? No it doesn't. Point zero eight is a per se limit. If you are impaired at a point zero three or a point zero two and you are unsafe on the water you are going to get arrested for it," Chamberlin said.

The fun doesn't stop there. Deputies impound the offending boat, and depending on the circumstance, you could have to pay for a special breath analysis machine installed in your watercraft.