Safety tips before setting sail

LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) – As Memorial Day approaches, wildlife agents expect many people will hit area boat launches, but before you set sail, safety is key.

“Make sure you have your life jackets,” said boater, George Brown Jr.

Because boating season is well underway.

“We have seen a higher then normal number of boating incidents,” said Sgt. Thomas Ashley with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Which is why the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries wants to make sure everyone takes safety precautions before hitting the waves.

“If you haven’t ran your boat in a while bring it to a local mechanic, have him look over everything,” said Sgt. Ashley.

Your boat could require safety devices depending on what size boat you have, according to Sgt. Ashley.

In addition to caring for your boat, there are also requirements for riders.

“Anybody born after January 1, 1984 has to complete a boating safety course,” said Sgt. Ashley. “Anybody under the age of 17 is required to wear a life jacket while the boat’s underway.”

Sgt. Ashley says although it’s not law, they encourage everyone to wear a life jacket.

“Think of a life jacket similar to a seatbelt in a vehicle, they don’t work unless you wear them,” said Sgt. Ashley. “If you get thrown out of a boat, you get the wind knocked out of you or something like that, most life jackets will turn you face up if you fall unconscious, and they will definitely keep you floating.”

Lastly, Sgt. Ashley says be mindful that drinking alcohol while boating is against the law.

“The penalties for being charged with DWI are the same while boating, as in a vehicle,” said Sgt. Ashley.

If you’re caught in violation by wildlife and fisheries, it could result in a citation.

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