Safe boating means planning before launch

By WLOX Staff

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Officials with the Department of Marine Resources say patrol officers will be out in full force this holiday weekend on all waterways south of Interstate 10.

Officers will specifically be checking to make sure all boats are equipped with safety gear. That's everything from life jackets for everyone on board to flares that aren't expired.

But officers say one of the most important things is to avoid boating in bad weather. Chief Lieutenant Colonel Rusty Pittman said boaters need to check weather reports and look at the horizon before going out. He said boaters need to wait for any storms to pass before getting in the water.

But if you do get caught in a storm, how you react could save your life. Chief Pittman said if you're near a barrier island, you should stay put and ride the storm out.

And if you're not near an island, Chief Pittman said it's important to just head into the waves and avoid steering until you find a safe harbor.

If you're not near an island and your boat breaks down, make sure to put out a bio anchor, one that has a rope at least three times the length of your boat.

You can always call the DMR at (228) 523-4134 for assistance. Chief Pittman expects anywhere from ten to 15 DMR officers to be on duty at a time.

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