Memorial Day weekend means increased Coast Guard patrol - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Memorial Day weekend means increased Coast Guard patrol

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) -

This Memorial Day weekend many South Mississippi residents will be taking out their boats for the first time this season and, with this week also being National Safe Boating Week, the U.S. Coast Guard wants to make sure every resident does it safely. 

Coastguard Auxiliary Flotilla Commander Carston Welman demonstrated a vessel safety exam Sunday on Biloxi resident Johnny White's boat. White says he didn't know all the points on the boat safety check list.

"I knew the majority of them, but some of the other tips were helpful as far as charts and float plans," said White.

Cmdr. Welman says although people usually have the necessary items on board, they aren't always in usable condition. 

"A lot of times, their life jackets are old, they don't take care of them," said the commander. "Things like fire extinguishers need to be maintained, their flares, all these things have expiration dates on them and a lot of times people just don't keep up with those expiration dates."

Cmdr. Welman recommends that everyone ask for a vessel safety check before hitting the water next weekend.

"Doesn't matter the size of your boat or what you're doing with it. It's a free service that we offer. You can go on our website and there's a slot on there that says vessel exam and just click on it," he said.

But there are some things that aren't covered by the check, like driving under the influence. 

"Boating and drinking is one of the number one causes of boating accidents,"said Cmdr. Welman.

In fact, the same law for drinking and driving a car extends to boats -- anything over .08% is illegal. But, according to Cmdr. Welman, it's something much simpler that causes most boat-related fatalities. 

"Approximately 85% of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets," he said. "You know, simply wearing a life jacket can save your life. It's like a seat belt."

Cmdr. Welman also recommends having a float plan any time you plan on getting on the water. Simply letting a relative or friend know when you plan to be back could help save your life in the event of an emergency. 

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