LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Summer is right around the corner which means Southwest Louisiana boaters are hitting the waters but that also means the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will be out there with them in full force to make sure boaters are safe as Louisiana participates in National Safe Boating week.
"We'll be out on the waterways, patrolling, making sure everybody has their safety equipment that's required on a boat," said Lt. Beau Robertson, who says agents will be monitoring the waters in up to 12 hour shifts. "We just want to have an officer presence so that hopefully everybody will have a safe, fun and enjoyable weekend."
National Safe Boating Week is set to begin May 17th and last until the 23rd. As the loading docks fill up and more boats head out to water, so will kayakers, which LDWF says are becoming more popular especially in the summer time.
To avoid accidents involving kayaks or canoes, agents are warning boaters to keep an eye out.
"It's not powered by a motor, it's just people going out and paddling around and it's very dangerous in areas with high boating activity," said Sgt. Stuart Guillory. "Kayaks and canoes don't have any power behind them to move them out of another boat coming in that area."
LDWF warns kayakers to always wear a life jacket before hitting the waters.
"When a boat comes in your area and you fall out in the water, you're probably not going to have time to put on that life jacket," said Guillory.
LWDF also offers a boating education program, which was initiated in 2003 and has certified over 50,000 boaters during that time.
LDWF also says anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984, must complete an approved boating education course and carry proof of completion to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.