Keeping It Safe On The Water

It doesn't take much for a pleasant day out on the water to take a dangerous turn, but being prepared with the right equipment and know-how can make a difference.

Lieutenant Robbie Cox has seen a lot more people hitting coast waters in recent weeks.

On Sunday morning, it was warm, and sunny, not a cloud in the sky, but this seasoned patrolman knows that can all change.

"At any minute. You could be having maybe 5 mile an hour wind out in the gulf, a storm comes up. It can go from one foot seas to five or six foot seas in a matter of minutes," said Cox.

Boaters can't control the weather, but they can control their response.

"Check your weather, where you are, if it looks like approaching storm, if you can get in, get in. If not, find some place," said Cox.

Over the years, Lt. Cox has worked a number tragic boat accidents, some weather-related, but many of them evidence that drinking and boating don't mix.

"A lot of time in bad boating accidents, the factor is alcohol. People get out on the water and they don't realize it's the same as being on the road. It's against the law to drink and drive," Cox said.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 750 boaters were killed in 2002.

Eighty-five percent of those people were not wearing their life jackets, even though there were lifejackets on board.

"It's not surprising one bit," Cox said. "That's just like today, filming, if you've see the boaters coming out, even in the fourteen foot boats, they don't have lifejackets on. They may have them on board, but then again they may be somewhere on board where you can't get to them easily."

Lt. Cox knows not everyone will follow his advice, but at least they'll have these boating safety tips to carry with them.