Coast Guard kicks off National Boating Safety Week
By Caray Grace| May 23, 2016 at 1:11 AM CDT - Updated July 24 at 6:38 PM
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX)
As the weather warms up and more boaters take to the water, it's important to make sure all safety equipment is on board and in good working condition.
"Life jackets, enough for everybody on board, a working fire extinguisher; it has to be a marine grade and Coast Guard approved, as well as the life jacket has to be Coast Guard approved," said United States Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Thompson. "A whistle or a horn, some kind of sound producing device, and a type four throwable."
It may seem like a lot, but the items Thompson mentions are all life saving devices that Marine Patrol agencies will look for when stopping a boat. The devices are important keys to boating safely; something not many people think of.
"Also, a float plan is preferable to leave with your family so that way everybody knows where they're going," said Thompson." So if they stay out a little bit late, or what not, we know where to go if something happens."
Not having the proper equipment on board could result in not just a ticket, but possibly a BUI - boating under the influence. Thompson says BUIs are probably the biggest problem officials encounter.
"You're not just taking your own life into your hands, you're taking everybody on that boat," said Thompson. "If something happens, nobody wants to live with that."
As more boats invade South Mississippi waterways in coming weeks, Officer Thompson hopes those in charge will keep safety tips in mind.
"We just want to make sure that everybody is safe out there. We will definitely have a Coast Guard presence out here every day this week to make sure everybody is being safe," said Thompson.
From 2014 to 2015, boating related deaths across the country increased by 2.6 percent.