SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The Department of Marine Resources' Marine Patrol wants all boaters to make safety their goal this holiday weekend.
Department of Marine Resources' Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis is keeping a close eye on boaters.
"It is Memorial Day Weekend and we are trying to keep everybody safe," said Davis.
According to The U.S. Coast Guard's most recent Recreational Boating Statistics, in 2014, fatalities totaled around 610. Chief Davis said with the traffic on the coastal waters expected to increase leading up to Memorial Day, he has boosted patrols to make sure people have the proper equipment on board.
"You have an audible device and flares and fire extinguisher," Davis asked a boater.
The marine patrol head and his team also want people to remember to boat sober and use common sense on the water.
"We are looking for anybody that is operating a boat and not taking into consideration the other boaters out there, we call that reckless operation. We are looking for individuals who choose to drink and boat under the influence, we ask you not to do that. That is the last thing an officer wants to do is arrest someone on this beautiful holiday weekend," said Davis.
The Marine patrol team said water safety rules are not only for adults, they also apply to young people, especially when it pertains to wearing life vests.
"We have some ice cream coupons from McDonalds for y'all wearing your life vest. Keep those life vests on at all times," Davis told a group of children boaters.
Several of the people soaking up some holiday fun said they welcome those extra patrols because they could help save lives.
"I appreciate you guys, I appreciate what y'all do," a kayaker said.
"It is no different than being in a car on land, it is the same possibilities which are obstacles, not paying attention where you are, and running aground," a fisherman said.
Chief Davis agrees.
"It is the most important part of this job to make sure those who come to enjoy the waterway are safe, and we are free of any injury and fatalities," said Chief Davis.