Boater safety looms large headed into Memorial Day weekend

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The U.S. Coast Guard is expecting a busier than normal turnout on the water this weekend for Memorial Day weekend. (Photo: Tanner Barth, WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–The open water across the Cape Fear is expected to be packed this weekend for Memorial Day, as boaters prepare for the unofficial start to summer. Thousands of people are expected in the Wilmington area looking for outdoor fun, but with that fun comes increased safety responsibility.

“We always like to say safety and having fun aren’t exclusive,”says USCG Chief Executive Petty Officer Jason Gazzillo. “When you’re out there just have fun, but also remain cognizant of other boaters.”

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According to North Carolina officials, Memorial Day weekend is one of three busiest weekends of the entire year on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard says it is important every time you launch a boat to have a plan in place.

“Just have plan when you go out, we ask that you don’t take this lightly,”said Gazzillo. “Having a boat is not like driving a vehicle, you have to have a good float plan ready to go. “Know your vessel and just operate safely.”

They say those plans should begin with life jackets first and foremost before even entering the water.

“The first thing is the most important and that is making sure you have your life jacket readily available,”Gazzillo says. “Especially those for the children, make sure they have them on, especially under the age of 13.”

In the event that you do run into trouble while out on the water the Coast Guard says they’re one call away at (910-256-4224).

“If they’re out there and they incur some sort of issue like that, they need to contact us immediately,”says Gazzillo. “Especially when a situation arises where there is a distress, immediately contact the Coast Guard.”

For more information on boater safety and the U.S. Coast Guard’s response you can visit their website.