May 22 through May 28 is designated as National Boating Safety Week in Mississippi, the week before the Memorial holiday when thousands of people will be out at area lakes and waterways.
Van McWorther, a park ranger at Oakatibee Lake, is trying to make sure boating safety is a priority.
"It will run the entire week where they emphasize safety and pleasure boating on a sail boat and jet ski’s. From January 2003 to December of that same year there were nine boating fatalities reported in the state. Since January of this year there have already been eight fatalities just one shy of last years numbers," said McWhorther.
To insure boaters have a these tools on board, next Saturday and Sunday park rangers at Okatibee Lake will be doing courtesy inspections.
Officials say that one of the most important tools that a boater can use when boating is a life jacket. In each of the fatalities in the state last year investigators say no one was wearing a life jacket and that all of these fatalities could have been prevented if they were.
The state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will also be out in full force during the holiday. They will be looking for boaters that are recklessly operating their vehicles including speeding, those driving while intoxicated, or those with vessels that are overloaded.
Fines could run from $50 to several hundred dollars for those in violation.
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