Marine Officials Urge Boating Safety This Summer
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Mississippi waterways are expected to be busy this Memorial Day weekend. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports on some of the safety issues marine patrol officers hope boaters will remember.

A boat settles into the water at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor Thursday afternoon. It’s pretty quiet here now, but come tomorrow morning, boat launches like this one are sure to be busy as Mississippians set off on the water. Department of Marine Resources Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis wants boaters to remember to give their vessels a safety check before setting out.

"We want people to make sure they are going all over their safety equipment that should be on their water vessel," he says. "Make sure that they have a life vest for everyone that's going to be on board. They don't have to wear their life vest but make sure they are available for everyone. Make sure they have some kind of audible device, a fire extinguisher, make sure that their lights are all in proper working condition."

Davis says even kayakers may want to consider having lights on board if they’re going out at night. Also, children 12 and under are required to wear life vests. Another big issue: boating under the influence.

"We don't want to arrest anyone for BUI at all," he says. "However, if you are boating under the influence, more than likely you're going to come in contact with a Marine Patrol officer. So our message is that if you're going to enjoy the weekend with alcohol, make sure there's someone on the boat that has not been drinking."

Last Memorial Day weekend, Marine Patrol officers inspected more than 500 boats and issued 67 citations, most for boat and water safety issues.