Police are out in force this holiday weekend

Herald staff

Authorities want Memorial Day weekend to be safe, and they’ll be out in force to make it so.

The Washington State Patrol will be one of 11,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide participating in Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), which will conclude at midnight on Monday.

Troopers will be out focusing on speeders and impaired drivers, people not wearing seat belts and commercial vehicle enforcement.

Last year during the Memorial Day holiday period from May 20-27, state troopers made 116 DUI arrests, issued 3,262 speeding tickets, 891 seat belt citations, 75 child restraint citations and 3,396 motorist assists.

Troopers will be in marked and unmarked cars, in aircraft and on motorcycles in this region. Those not wearing seat belts will get a ticket — no excuses, no exceptions, trooper W.L. Boxhoorn said.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation has issued weekend travel tips for the unofficial start of the state’s vacation travel season.

Most crews on state highways stopped work by noon Friday, but motorists may experience delays on some highways, including the North Cascades Highway, where snow and debris could fall onto the road.

Also, the southbound Highway 529 bridge between Marysville and Everett remains closed until at least mid-August. Today through Monday, the northbound Steamboat Slough Bridge will accommodate one lane of traffic in each direction. The reversible one-way mode for peak commuter hours will resume Tuesday.

Department of Transportation personnel urge travelers to leave early, allow for extra time, obey the directions of flaggers and use caution when traveling through work zones. Traffic fines are doubled in work zones when workers are present.

There still are seats available on Amtrak trains in Washington, but allow extra time to get to and from stations because of increased traffic. Most public transit agencies will follow a holiday schedule Monday, transportation officials said.

Large crowds are expected at ferry docks for the weekend, and Washington State Ferries will be supplementing its regular service. Motorists should expect long lines and waits on Monday. Saturday morning and early afternoon also will be busy on the Anacortes-San Juan Islands run, officials said.

Authorities also want people flocking to the water to be safe.

The Snohomish County Safe Kids Coalition will be starting a free program loaning life jackets this weekend. Cabinets that include life jackets for children and adults will be open for the season today at several Snohomish County parks. The collection includes an honor system at Martha Lake Park in Lynnwood sponsored by Snohomish County Fire District 1, and at Silver Lake Park in south Everett sponsored by the Everett City Council.

Drowning can happen in a matter of seconds, officials said, typically occurring when a child is left unattended. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 through 4 in Washington. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water, state Department of Health officials said.

"Drowning is a terrible incident that can be prevented," said Kathy Williams, injury prevention specialist for the Department of Health. "With just a few simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of drowning while still having a good time."

She urged residents to follow these safety tips:

  • Know the river. At this time of year, rivers often are high and swift from spring runoff, and the water is very cold. Cold and swift water can overcome even the strongest swimmers.

  • Assign water watchers to supervise children. Small children should wear life jackets whenever near the water.

  • Know your limits. Swimmers tire more easily in open water than in a pool.

  • Stay sober. Alcohol limits your ability to respond to the weather, water and wave action.

  • Swim in areas with a lifeguard.

  • Don’t overload the boat.

  • Wear a life jacket. Many people fall overboard while fishing or pulling in crab pots. If you fall overboard, you won’t have time to put a life jacket on, so wear one at all times.

  • State law requires children to wear personal flotation devices in boats. Children ages 12 and younger must wear them when on boats less than 19-feet long that are moving.

  • Recreational boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices in good condition for each person on board.

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