Memorial weekend is when lots of people hit the water for the first time of the summer season. The Missouri Water Patrol will be out in force trying to keep people safe. 

Sgt. Jerry Callahan drownings are already up slightly year to date over last year. However, although nationwide, alcohol is a contributing factor in about half of all boating fatalitites, he says Missouri seems to be bucking that trend. Alcohol was a contributing factor in only in only four of 17 deaths. And he says patrol officers are noting more people are relying on designated sober drivers while having fun on Missouri’s lakes and rivers.

But he says when it comes down to it, people need to be responsible for themselves, even when a sober driver is in control of the vessel. Callahan points to a nationwide statistic that shows 90 percent of all drowning victims are not wearing a life jacket. And he reminds folks that for kids under seven, it’s the law. Callahan says the old excuse that they’re bulky and hot doesn’t fly anymore since life jackets are now available that are lightweight and unobtrusive.

Callahan says the patrol is also urging folks to check their safety equipment on board. The basics include life jackets, a horn, fire extinguisher, title and registration … and if you’re out after dark … lights on the boat.
Anyone on the water who wants to have their equipment checked can flag an officer, who can do an on-site check. He says those who do so will not get ticketed for failing to have a required item on board.

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:10 min.]