Keeping it safe on the water

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Memorial Day is just one week away and many South Mississippians plan to spend the holiday out on Coast waters, but a day of fun in the sun could turn into a tragedy in the blink of an eye.

News 25’s Toni Miles sheds light on tips for keeping loved ones safe as boating season kicks into full gear and how local businesses are pitching in to help South Mississippians suit up for boating safety.

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Like the weather, in a matter of seconds, a fun boating holiday can turn into a tragedy. This is just one reason why the Department of Marine Resources is getting out on the front end as they prepare for one of the busiest boating holidays of the year. Captain Patrick Levine with the Department of Marine Resources said, “This weekend, it’s going to be all hands on deck. There’s going to be enforcement everywhere.”

In the state of Mississippi, children 12 and under must be wearing a life jacket at all times on the water, all adults on the boat must also have a lifejacket that fits properly. DMR officials tell News 25 this could mean the difference between life and death. “In 80 percent of accidents involving a fatality, drowning was the cause. In 83 percent of those the victim was not wearing a lifejacket. When you’re considering a lifejacket, there are some things you need to do. First of all, it needs to be readily accessible. If there were a boating accident, you need to be able to get to it. Number two, it needs to be the right size for the intended wearer. They come in different sizes. Third thing, it has to be in good condition. You want to be able to depend on that thing in the situation when you need it.”

Thanks to Riemann Family Funeral Homes and a grant from the Sea Tow Foundation, you can find the perfect fit at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. A life vest stand has been set up for anyone who needs a loaner jacket. It’s a stand boating safety advocates hope will be around for the long haul. Chad Riemann said, “We are also accepting donations for other donations so we can perpetually keep the stand there. Who knows, the one hanging in your garage may be the one that saves a life one day.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....