Oxley police hit the water

THE long weekend forecast is for sunny weather, but it’s not only holidaymakers flocking to the region’s water hot spots.

Police are hitting the dams in numbers as part of a blitz on the water as people make the most of the extra time off.

Oxley Senior Constable Brian Pegus said at the end of the day safety is paramount.

“Things can and do go wrong very quickly,” he said.

“Add in a mix of alcohol and rough water and there is potential for death and disaster.”

There have been emergency call outs like last month to Split Rock Dam after a 61-year-old man received serious injuries to his thigh and leg when he was struck by a propeller, while another suffered serious injuries in an accident near Walgett after he collided with a tree on a wakeboard.

And emergency services are no stranger to calls for help for boats capsizing, collisions or fires.

Random breath tests and equipment checks for things like life jackets will be the main focus for police. 

“If you are the skipper of the boat, simply don’t drink,” Senior Constable Pegus said.

“The effects of alcohol being consumed on a hot day with water motion and bright sunlight are compounded and judgement easily impaired.”

The legal blood alcohol limit for skippers is 0.05 – the same as those who get behind the wheel of a car.

With dry weather and lack of rain, there is another potential hazard skippers need to contend with too.

Water levels have dropped at all the dams meaning objects have started to emerge each day. 

Things like tree branches that were under water can be very dangerous if a boat or a waterskier collides with them. 

Specially-trained staff are being deployed onto the Oxley boats from now right through until Easter.

“We want people to get out and enjoy themselves but we certainly don’t want any tragedies on our waterways,” Senior Constable Pegus said. 

Boat owners are urged to check that their vessel adheres to all the NSW maritime requirements and ensure they have a UHF radio or another communication device should an emergency unfold.

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