Use caution on the water this Independence Day

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - It's quiet now, but soon the Mississippi Sound will be filled with folks boating and celebrating Independence Day. Michelle Lady has some tips you should know while out enjoying the water.

While it is all about fun safety is key. And if you're not following the rules of the water, the DMR and other officials will be out issuing tickets. You load up your boat and you are ready to ride the waves.

As you crank the engine Rusty Pitman with DMR's Marine Patrol, says make sure you have the kill switch that's on the key attached to you.

"Have it around your wrist, on your life jacket, or on your belt loop that way if you hit a wave and it throws you from one side it's going to pull that chord and automatically cut your engine," Pitman said.

Have you checked the weather? Pitman says it's vital to stay abreast of the latest weather conditions.

"You can do that on VHF radio that has the weather channel on it, or am/fm radio. Always have a cell phone with you too," Pitman said.

WLOX has a weather app where you can find the latest forecast and any weather advisories or cautions. If you happen to get caught up in a squall, know what to do.

"If you are at an island the best thing to do if you see a storm coming is stay there. If you are on en route back you come into the squall and say your motor breaks down; the main thing to do is throw out an anchor from the bow not the stern," he said.

If for some reason your boat or jet ski ever begins to sink, Pittman says make sure everyone has their life jackets on and stays near the vessel.

The most common cause of death while boating is drowning; already this year in the three Coastal counties there has been at least nine drowning deaths. And according to the U.S. Lifesaving Association more than 100 people die annually from drowning in rip currents.

"If you get caught in a rip current they always recommend is swim parallel to shore and then swimming parallel to shore you can easily make it back up to shore," he added.

Remember all drivers born after June 30, 1980 must have a boating license. No one is allowed to ride on the bow of the boat with their feet hanging over.  For those of you watching fireworks make sure there's enough room between boats and leave the stern light on. And don't forget all the important safety equipment.

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