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Authorities stress importance of water safety during holiday weekend

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

It's the unofficial start to summer.

And in Northwest Louisiana, Memorial Day weekend means spending time with friends and family - and often - that's on a local waterway.

But if you're not prepared, tragedy can strike in the blink of an eye.

"There's so many safety factors. There's so many things that you gotta pay attention to and they tend to forget that because all they want to do is have a good time," says Sgt. Troy Parker, with LA Wildlife & Fisheries.

Parker says as the holiday weekend kicks off, it's especially important to keep some essential safety tips in mind.

He says anyone under the age of 17 must legally wear a UL and Coast Guard approved life jacket. when the boat motor is running.

Also, if you can't swim, no matter your age, Parker says to put on a life jacket.

"Make sure it's in good working condition. Make sure there's no rips or tears along the floatation. And make sure that it's readily accessible."

And just because you're on the water, doesn't mean there aren't 'Rules of the Road.'

No drinking and driving, and no reckless operation of the vessel.

"If you are drinking and driving, you are subject to field sobriety. You are subject to be in prison, go to jail, lose your driving privileges. It will go against your driver's license."

A split second -- that's how long it takes for a day on the water to go terribly wrong.

Parker says those driving the boat should always be aware of their passenger's swimming capabilities.

"We want you to leave the water the same way you came in. Safe, intact, and in one piece."
Remember - if you're riding a jet ski, you must wear a life jacket at all times.

That goes for any jet ski passengers, as well.

Also keep in mind - it's illegal to operate those jet skis at night.

Parker says the best thing to do is just make a check-list of everything safety-related, before you ever leave home.

For more information on boating safety and regulations for Louisiana, click here.

 

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