Boating safety gear you need before having fun in the sun

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - It is a holiday week and that means more boaters will be relaxing and enjoying the water.

Interim Director of DMR Marine Patrol Rusty Pittman said do not be in a rush to push off from the dock, instead take your time and make sure you have the life saving equipment you need on board.

"The main thing I tell everybody is treat a boat like a car because you have rules of the road you have to go by on the water too," Pittman said. "The first thing you do before you crank the engine is put a seat belt on, so I'd advise everybody the first thing they do before they crank the motor is put a life jacket on."

Those 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket at all times when the boat is on. But Pittman said it is not a bad idea for everyone to wear one or at the very least keep one close by.

"Take it out of the container, you want these ready so if somebody gets in trouble each person can get their own life jacket and not everybody going after one bundle make sure they are out of that," Pittman said.

You will also need a floatation device you can throw to someone in distress.

"Whether it is a cushion, a throwable type PDF, or a throw ring you need to have that on board," Pittman said.

A fire extinguisher and flares are other important safety equipment.

Pittman said, "If you have an enclosed fuel tank you need to have a fire extinguisher. If you are going out in open water you need to have a flare kit."

The equipment does no good if it is not in working order. Pittman advices you to check the extinguisher and make sure it reads full, if it is in the red you need to replace it. And make sure your flare is not expired. Also like a car you need to check and make sure everything is running properly before you get into the open water.

"At night you want to have your bow light and your stern light and make sure it is working properly," Pittman said.

Most people carry a cell phone with them at all times, but Pittman said it is also a good idea to have a VHF radio in case you do not get good reception on the water. Also DMR recommends leaving a float plan with a friend detailing your trip and when you should return. Wednesday on Good Morning Mississippi we will share some important tips you need to know while you are out boating including how to survive a rip current.

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