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Pros give boating tips to keep you afloat

With Memorial Day Weekend just days away experts say now is the time to get your boat ready to go.
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With Memorial Day Weekend just days away experts say now is the time to get your boat ready to go. 

The U.S. Coast Guard reports 80 percent of boating deaths are from drowning. There’s a lot to do to make sure you aren’t on a sinking ship.

The Guntersville Police chief told WZDX News there are a lot more boats out than usual for May. 

“It’ll be all hands on deck for that,” said Chief Jim Peterson about the holiday weekend.

But it’s your responsibility to follow the laws meant to keep you afloat.

“Life jackets, throw cushions, fire extinguishers,” lists longtime boater and Duckett Marine manager Kevin McMahan.

Kids under eight have to wear life jackets and you must have the right number of them on board.

“You do have fire extinguisher requirements depending on the size of your boat,” added Peterson. “They’re not any good if you don’t check them and they’re not charged and readily available were you to have an on board fire.”

Experts advise to check your carbon monoxide alarms and don’t forget it’s illegal to drink and drive, even on the water.

Holiday weekends mean boat ramps will be extremely busy so longtime boaters suggest having everything ready before you get on the ramp so you can get off of it and out of the way ASAP.

“For new boaters putting their boat in the water, that’s probably one of the more dangerous and more stressful times for them,” said McMahan. “Backing the boat down, it’s a $20 to $100 thousand investment behind them. All these guys in line have done it a hundred times and they’re like ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,’ and they’re putting stress on that new boater. So getting some practice ahead of the holiday weekend is a great idea.”

And of course ‘all hands on deck’ means watching out for your fellow boaters.

“It’s a really helpless feeling when you’re in the middle of a lake and you have no operable boat to motor back to the ramp with,” said McMahan. “So always take the opportunity to help somebody if you can. It always comes back to you.”

Get boating tips from the National Safe Boating Council here.

Check out Alabama Power’s Lake Safety Resource Guide here.  

See the laws from the Alabama Marine Patrol here