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Authorities Urge Safety This Memorial Day

By Daniel Cherry | Published 25 May 2012 07:02pm | comments

The Memorial Day holiday kicks off boating season in Mississippi. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how law enforcement is telling anyone hitting the water to take extra precautions.

Memorial Day is one of the three busiest boating days of the year, and as thousands of Mississippians shove off from dry land today, authorities want boaters to remain vigilant. Perry Waggener, Chief of the Ross Barnett Reservoir Patrol says, anyone taking to the water should get prepared.

"You need to make sure your boat is registered. You need to make sure that you have properly fitting personal flotation devices accessible, and accessible doesn't mean stored away in a cabinet. It means where people can get to it. Nobody plans to have an accident."

Out on the Reservoir, Donyel Jones of Terry is planning a fun filled day on the water with his children. He says the extra traffic isn't a concern, but he is cautious.

"Mostly keep fuel in your vehicle. Keep your cell phones on you, just in case you have an accident. You've got to keep a sharp eye out on other folks and watch for other boaters. Late in the evening is most of the time when a lot of them start acting up."

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is teaming up with local law enforcement agencies to look for those who have too much to drink while boating. Waggener says some people have the misconception that drinking while driving a boat is ok.

"Alcohol and boating don't mix any more than alcohol and cars do. It's our goal for everyone to have a safe and happy holiday because if the public has a safe and happy holiday then we do too."

The U.S. Coast Guard estimates there are about eight thousand boating accidents each year nationwide, which result in roughly 800 deaths. Last year eleven people died in Mississippi due to boat crashes.

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