Boat... 06/24/99

Advocate Staff Photograph by Mark Saltz.Picture shot on 6-24-99. Travel safely with your boat this summer by taking time to check the trailer as well as its registration and inspection papers. Keyword Boating

Be safe on the water, wear a life jacket, don’t drink and drive.

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The national proclamation says May 18-24 is “Safe Boating Week” across the country and in Louisiana. It’s the annual declaration to encourage folks to heed all of the rules to operate a boat and to be a passenger on a vessel.

At the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, we want to extend safe boating to every minute you, your family and friends are on any boat, anywhere and at any time.

What we suggest are simple habits that can make boating pleasurable and save your life and those that you love.

Each boat should have a personal flotation device for everyone on board. Anyone 16 years of age and younger must wear a PFD while underway in vessels less than 26 feet long. We recommend, however, that everyone wear a PFD, commonly called a “life jacket,” at all times, no matter the size of the boat. There’s a very good reason why it’s called a life jacket.

We hope that everyone has a great time on the water. LDWF does its best to make sure our waterways are safe. But you have to help. That means don’t drink and drive. The penalties for DWI on the water are just like those on the road. And, just like on the road, drinking can make your driving on the water hazardous and deadly.

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Anyone cited for a DWI on the water will lose his or her driver’s license and boating privileges for a specified time ordered by a judge. Again, we plead with boaters not to drink and drive.

Here are some sobering facts. There were 20 boating fatalities in 2018. There have been five reported fatalities in 2019. Drinking and driving, and not wearing a PFD, increases these odds of boating fatalities.

LDWF teaches a safe boating course. More than 110,000 boaters have been certified since the course’s inception in 2003. Visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/boating/courses for more information.

Have a wonderful time on the water this holiday weekend and keep safety in mind every time you’re in a boat.

And, by the way, keep our waterways clean.

Jack Montoucet

secretary, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Baton Rouge