Authorities call for boating safety ahead of Memorial Day weekend
RALLS COUNTY, Missouri (WGEM) – Soldiers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol Marine Division have said a life jacket is a must-have item for those going to the water this weekend, or any other when you get to the water.
“If you are in a boat over 16 feet long, you must also have an additional disposable type four device,” said Master Sgt William Koch.
He said people also need to make sure their boat is in working order before taking it out, not after.
“Historically, we encounter a lot of boats that are broken down,” Koch said.
“They’ve been in storage over the winter, they go out and they have bad gas, there are often mechanical problems.”
He said early checks can save a lot of time and trouble.
“Make sure the first time they start their boat is not when they are at the boat launch with 100 people behind them.”
Chicago residents Janan and Steve Jaronsinki said they had been coming to Mark Twain Lake for 25 years.
“We see deer, we see eagles every time we come,” Janan said. “We love fishing, bass, crappie. We love water sports.”
But they said a big part of their tradition is to stay safe.
“We wear life jackets whenever we are on the water. We have a fire extinguisher on our boat, which is necessary,” Janan said.
“Not drinking on the water is probably the most important thing and just stay away from it,” Steve said.
Koch said those looking to drink should be careful because DUI laws on water are very similar to those on the road.
“If you are out and decide to drink this weekend, you need to make sure you designate a sober driver for the boat and also for the person who will also put the truck and trailer in the water”, a- he declared.
Lifejacket laws vary from state to state.
In Missouri, all children under the age of seven are required to wear a life jacket in a boat at all times, unless they are in the cabin of a barge or cruiser.
In Iowa, children 12 and under must wear a lifejacket on any boat, while children 12 and under in Illinois must wear a lifejacket if they are on a boat less than 26 feet long.
Koch said those on interstate waterways, like the Mississippi River, should always default to the state with the strictest rules.