Boaters should be cautious of oil boom in area waters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Boaters should be cautious of oil boom in area waters

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Coastal waters will be busy this weekend as thousands of boaters will be heading out on fishing trips or pleasure cruises. And while boating safety is always important, there's something extra to remember with the oil spill.

The usual boating safety advice still applies: life jackets, flares, a marine radio and filing a float plan. That something extra is the addition of all those oil boom" on area waters.  Boaters need to pay attention.

"Well, it's so important because we'd like for everybody that goes out to come back. And not in a body bag," said Tom Hammack.

Hammack is with the Coast Guard Auxiliary and said a few simple safety tips can make all the difference.

Life jackets still top the list, provided you wear them rather than stow them.  You never know when your fast moving boat may strike a submerged log or stump.

"And you hit it and you don't even know it was there and you're in the water and you look at the life jacket sitting up on the boat as it goes away. So, you need to wear it when you're underway," says Hammack.

A high tech gadget that transmits GPS coordinates could be worth its weight in gold if your boat should fail somewhere offshore.

"You have trouble, you open it up, you pull the emergency lever on it and it will send your position to a satellite that the Coast Guard can get within a very short period of time," Hammack explains.

The latest safety advice relates to the oil spill. With so much boom deployed in area waters, boaters must be cautious.

"Don't run over those oil booms. Two reasons. You may damage the oil boom. And more important to a lot of boaters, you may damage your boat and your engine going over those things," Hammack said.

When you're on the water, many of the boating safety rules boil down to two things: common sense and courtesy.

Marvin Robinson has been boating for 40 years.  He urges all boaters to watch their speed and their fellow boaters.

"Just think of the other fella. Think of the guy you might be swamping. You might be turning his boat over or something, you know. Don't make no big waves on people. Be courteous, that's the main thing," said the Woolmarket resident.

One more word of advice: file a float plan.  Let someone know where you're launching, where you're headed and when you expect to return.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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