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Safety On The Water

When Arlon and Deborah Bowman take the kids to the lake, theyalways make sure they’re following one old tried-and-true safetyrule.

“We always put their life vests on them,” said Deborah.

And Will, 5, and Evie, 3, enjoy riding in their family’s pontoonboat, especially now that the weather is nice.

“We want for them to be safe,” their mother said.

With summer on the way and children out of school, boats arestarting to pop up in local bodies of water in larger numbers thanusual. Some are fishing boats, some are pulling skiiers, and someare simply there to float or explore.

Jake and Patty Peterson, of Franklin County, said they havealways taught their three children to respect the water.

“They have to wear their vests, of course, but they also knownot to stand up and move around while the boat is moving,” saidJake Peterson. “They know that they have to stay sitting down untilit’s still.”

In addition, Patty said, they have rules of their own.

“We just don’t horse around,” she said. “You always have to knowwhat’s going on with your boat.”

But things can happen, which is why some boats are coming withsafety measures of their own.

Brookhaven’s Heath Willard said he has a killswitch in his boat.He said he’s mostly just there to fish, and that he’s not tooworried about something happening, but that you have to takeprecautions.

“It’s in case I fall out,” he said. “You hook it on your vest oron yourself, and if you fall out the motor will stop.”

And local weather conditions should always be a considerationwhen boating, said Harold Magee of Prentiss as he secured his boaton its trailer.

“Well, once when I was a kid I saw a boat get struck bylightning on the (Ross Barnett) Reservoir,” he said. “That’s stuckwith me. If there are black clouds in the sky, I’m staying onland.”

Meanwhile, Deborah Williams of Crystal Springs said she has hervery own kind of boat safety.

“I’m not getting in a boat,” she said as she sat fishing on thepier at Lake Lincoln. “I’m not getting near a boat.”

The Mississippi State Department of Health reminded boaters thatgeneral water safety is a must. It warns against swimming alone andleaving children unattended, as well as drinking alcohol before orduring swimming, boating or water skiing.

In addition, CPR skills can be the difference between life anddeath for a loved one who might be close to drowning in the time ittakes for the ambulance to arrive, the MDH site at http://www.healthyms.com/ points out.

The Boat U.S. Foundation has an online boating safety coursethat it says is approved to meet the basic boater educationrequirements for most operators in Mississippi at http://www.boatus.org. It also directs boaters toclassroom courses if they’d rather attend in person.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parkslists how to register a boat and renew registration on its websiteat http://home.mdwfp.com/Fisheries/.