Boating safety tips ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

Boating safety tips ahead of Memorial Day Weekend
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:01 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana are getting a taste of summer with Memorial Day right around the corner.

The Calcasieu Parish Marine Division provided tips on how to stay safe while still enjoying the summer fun and the water.

So whether you’re on a raft, a boat, or a jet ski, Lt. Ron Johnson says safety should be your main priority this summer with tips like wearing your life jacket, paying attention, knowing depths before diving, and making a plan.

The first tip is to not only make sure you have enough life jackets on board per person, but also that you wear one.

“Life jackets are extremally important if you happen to fall in the water and hit your head, so if you’re not paying attention and end up in the water this is going to keep you on the surface until someone can pick you up,” said Johnson.

Wearing a life jacket reminds an important tip even if you are a good swimmer.

Memorial Day weekend is just one of the busiest times of the year for boaters to be on the water so setting a plan before going out and remaining aware of your surroundings are key.

“A lot of times boats come around corners at high speed and each doesn’t pay attention to the boat coming at them and they think they see each other but in a lot of cases they don’t react quick enough,” said Johnson.

The Calcasieu Parish Marine Division provides tips on how to stay safe while still enjoying the summer fun and the water.

Johnson said that there are 325 square miles of waterway in Calcasieu Parish and 650 in Cameron Parish. On a busy weekend like the upcoming weekend, anywhere from 500 to 800 boats will be out so it is important to take the proper safety steps. He says when driving a boat and approaching another never assume that someone sees you because they could be distracted.

Johnson says many injuries can occur on the water and recommends knowing the depth before diving.

“Many people get injured by diving in shallow water where they did not know how deep the water is when diving from the deck of the boat,” he said.

Next, Johnson recommends making a plan and leaving it with someone you know to inform them where you will be and who to contact if you are not home by a certain time.

“Make sure you have fuel, plenty of water so you stay hydrated, and just keep everyone apprised at what’s going on,” Johnson said.

Another important reminder is about “No Wake” zones, which the Sheriff’s Office says they consistently have issues with. These zones were made to decrease damage that can be done to vessels that are launching from boat launches. While in the see zones, make sure you’re operating your boat at “bare steerage speed” and produce no wake.

If you’re unsure of where these “No Wake” zones are, they are anywhere within 300 ft. of a public boat ramp or adjacent dock.

Last, leave the suds on the shore - the rules are the same for the boat as they are on the road when it comes to drinking and driving.