BATON ROUGE, LA (KPLC) - Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the boating season and is know as one of the busiest recreational boating weekends of the year for the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.
The 8th U.S. Coast Guard District say that with the increased boater traffic there are also increased safety hazards. They recommend that boaters have the following safety equipment on board at all times: life jackets for everyone aboard, a noise making device such as a horn, visual distress signals such as flares or a signal mirror and a fire extinguisher.
The following are safety tips for boaters prior to leaving the dock:
- Never boat under the influence. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor of all fatal boating accidents. It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is strongly discouraged.
- Always wear a life jacket. A life jacket is required for each person aboard a vessel, sized accordingly and easily accessible. Children younger than 13 years old are required to wear a life jacket at all times.
- Carry a VHF-FM marine radio. Boaters should have an operational marine VHF radio on their boat in order to contact the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.
- In the event of an emergency the Coast Guard can be reached on VHF-FM 16.
- Have a Vessel Safety Check. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety checks and can be reached at www.cgaux.org. A vessel safety check is the best possible way to learn about potential violations of state and federal requirements. Most importantly, these quick exams can keep your boat and passengers out of harm's way.
- Boaters should be aware of, and obey, all federal and state regulations for recreational boating and navigation.