WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Memorial Day Weekend has become well known as the unofficial start to summer, and in the nation’s capital, the fire department knows it as the start of boating season.

While time on the water is fun and exciting, D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services want to give folks reminders to stay safe.

Vito Maggiolo, the public information officer with DCFEMS, said, “We want people to enjoy themselves, but we want them to be safe and we don’t have to come rescue them.”

One important reminder from DCFEMS is that swimming in the Potomac is illegal.

Maggiolo also explained, “The river is a beautiful place. It attracts people. However, the water can be deceptively calm.”

Throughout the summer, the fire department is typically called for drownings near Chain Bridge.

“Underneath the water, there are very strong currents. There’s also rocks,” Maggiolo said. “You could be walking along the banks, slip into the water and it’s actually like a washing machine. You’ll be tumbled around.”

For boaters, there are other things to keep in mind. The fire department said it is important to check that your boat is in good working condition before heading out on the water, making sure there are working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors on board and that there are enough life vests for each person on board. Additionally, boaters need to have a working means of communication. Finally, the person operating the boat should not be drinking alcohol.

No matter what your plan is for the holiday weekend, keep in mind hydration and protecting yourself from the sun. Download WDVM’s app for personalized radar and to stay up to date on weather throughout the weekend.