As boaters get ready for the holiday weekend, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (M.D.M.R.) encourages everyone to make sure their boat is prepared with safety equipment. While boaters are cruising along the water, it’s easy to forget how quickly an emergency can happen.
To avoid a dangerous situation, check your boat and motor before heading out. The M.D.M.R. says to then check safety equipment. The most important device is a life jacket for each member on-board, and one to throw into the water should someone fall overboard. Lt. Claude Pittman, the Acting Chief of M.D.M.R. Law Enforcement, says, "You need to have a throw cushion or throw ring on board, which is Coast Guard approved in case somebody falls overboard or if you see somebody in the water you can throw it to them." Also be sure to have some loud noise device, like a whistle or air horn, to signal other boaters. The M.D.M.R. says a first-aid kit will come in handy for minor cuts and injuries as well. They say another key step is checking to be sure your equipment, like fire extinguishers, are in working condition. Pittman also says, "As you can tell with this one, the needle is in the green, which means it’s perfectly charged."
The M.D.M.R. says makes sure to double check your equipment before leaving to ensure you have a safe day out on the water. Pittman also says, "In waters expanding two miles, you need to have a flair kit onboard, and you need to check that your flairs are not expired. See right here it has an expiration date." The M.D.M.R. asks that boaters keep all trash in a container onboard in order to keep our waters clean. Both the M.D.M.R. and the Coast Guard will have extra patrols out this weekend. The agencies will be keeping an eye out for boating under the influence. Pittman closes, "If you're going to drink when you're on the water or bring some alcoholic beverages, make sure you have a designated driver, just like you would if you're on the road."
Boat drivers cannot have a blood alcohol content higher than .08 while driving, just as on the road. If you were born after June 30th 1980, you need to complete a boater safety course before driving. For more information about boat safety and regulations, go to www.dmr.ms.gov.