SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — As people prepare for Memorial Day on Monday and are thinking about getting out on boats to enjoy the weather, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Marine Unit has some tips to help boaters stay safe and have a good time.
This year, the water in Caddo Parish lakes and the Red River are extremely high due to local rains, as well as rains in surrounding states like Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, which have made for high water in local streams as it travels downhill.
CPSO Marine Unit Cpl. Madison Cox cautioned people to be aware of underwater piers, which he said are usually above the water, but can be covered in high water conditions. He added that channel markers, as well as debris floating downstream.
Local boater, Chad Long, said it’s “quite hazardous when you’re unable to see where you’re going.” Long said when water’s high, boaters need to have more focus – pay attention to detail, drive slower and wear a life jacket, which should be checked to make sure that it zips or buckles where it’s supposed to. He said it’s also important to make sure “the floatation is good and sturdy and is not deteriorating.”
Cox added that boaters should tell family and friends where they’re going and when they plan to return. “That way if something does happen, they’ll have a point of reference to let the local authorities know if you’re not back home when you say you’re supposed to be back.”
Also, it’s important that phone batteries are fully charged and that it’s important to check the required weight boats can hold. If boats are overloaded with items and people, the extra weight can increase instability, which can result in “swamping,” meaning the boat fills with water from over the sides.
Cox said people driving boats should not consume alcohol, because DWI’s are issued on the water, just as they are on land. If boaters want to have alcohol involved, they should find a designated driver who does not imbibe while serving as the ship captain.
Deanna Kamphuis, 62, has been boating for 47 years after getting her first boat when she was 15-years-old. She said it’s important to remember boating courtesy.
She said boaters shouldn’t drive “real close” to a boat that’s sitting still in the water, adding that boats should not follow other boats too closely. Kamphuis said don’t follow too closely either.
“If they fall, you need to be able to have enough room to avoid them,” Kamphuis said.
Nevertheless, with all of these safety tips, Cox wants people to have a good time as well as drink plenty of water.
“Just enjoy yourself, but most importantly be safe,” he said.