By Todd Shettles
Keep the fun on the water coming – whether it’s fishing boat, a canoe
or a personal watercraft that “floats your boat.”
Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness and speeding are the
four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes and the leading
cause of death is drowning.
Crash statistics indicate boaters who wear life jackets and take
boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on waters.
Follow these basic safety tips and enjoy your favorite lake, river or
pond with family and friends.
Leave off the alcohol
Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol’s
effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind,
noise and vibration.
Mississippi Boating Rules & Regulations Alcohol Boating Safety Act
makes it unlawful to operate a watercraft on the public waters of the
state of Mississippi while under the influence of intoxicating liquor
or any other substance which has impaired the person’s ability to
operate a watercraft. (See General Boating Rules & Regulations on the
Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks web site at www.mdwfp for
complete rules and regulations.)
Don’t leave off the right safety equipment.
Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable life jacket for each person
onboard. Under the new regulations throwable PFD (Type IV) will no
longer qualify as a life jacket on boats less than 16 feet
requirements remain unchanged on boats 16 feet and over.
Remember life jackets work best if worn.
Have a fire extinguisher.
Have operable boat lights – Always test boat lights before leaving
Have a flashlight and extra batteries.
Have a first aid kit
Have a whistle
Be weather wise.
Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a
radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can
mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the
water early to avoid getting caught in a storm.
Take these steps before getting under way.
Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Take a cell phone with you. Smart phones may allow you to check
For boats with inboard engines always allow any gas fumes to escape
before attempting to start the engine to decrease the chance of fire.
Check the boat landing for any local regulations that apply.
Loading and unloading your boat.
Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat
unstable and increase the risk of capsizing refer to the boats
capacity plate which is located near the boat operators position and
Effective July 1, 1997, any person born after June 30, 1980, must
complete a Boating Safety Course to operate a boat. People under 12
years of age must be accompanied by a person 21 or older on board the
boat in order to operate the boat.
For people who wish to learn more about Mississippi Boating Basics
and the legal and safe practices for boat operators, a six-hour
instructor taught course is available for groups. The Mississippi
Boating Basics home-study course is available for persons who are
unable to attend an instructor taught course. Most insurance
companies honor these courses by offering reductions in insurance
premiums on completion.
For more information related to boating and Boating Safety Classes,
call 601-432-2182 or write to: BOATING ENFORCEMENT, P.O. Box 451,
Jackson, MS 39205-0451.