BILOXI, Miss. — Labor Day weekend is just around the coroner and many coastal residents and visitors will be taking to the waterways to go boating. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) is asking boaters to take proper precautions as they celebrate the three-day weekend.
“We want people to enjoy the water and have fun, but we also want them to be safe,” said Keith Davis, chief of Marine Patrol for the MDMR. “People need to make sure their boat is in proper working order before taking it out on the water, and they need to have the proper safety equipment on board”
It is important for boaters to have a designated driver if the plan on drinking out on the water.
“We will have extra officers on duty this weekend, so if you are going to drink, let someone else drive the boat,” Davis said. “You shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car or boat if you’ve been drinking.”
The MDMR offers boater safety courses in various locations throughout the year to make it more convenient for residents. The law requires that anyone born after June 30, 1980 take a boat-and-water safety course, but MDMR officials encourage everyone to take a refresher if they plan to go boating.
Lt. Patrick Levine is the boat and water safety officer for Marine Patrol, and he has scheduled classes once a month in each of the following locations: The Bolton Building on Bayview Avenue in Biloxi; the Grand Bay NERR in Jackson County and the Pass Christian Oyster Check Station.
A complete schedule is available at dmr.ms.gov.
Levine said the topics covered in the classes include basic navigational aids, safety equipment and safety information. The classes also teach the legal requirements of boating.
“In order to avoid a collision with other boaters, know and follow the rules of navigation,” Levine said. “We want people to keep a sharp lookout and be courteous when they are on the water. Marine Patrol wants to see fewer boat and water accidents, and one of the ways we can have this is through education.”