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Officials Stress Boating Safety as Memorial Day Weekend Approaches

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 379 of the 651 drowning deaths in 2012 did not have a life jacket.
(BRANSON, Mo.) After months of waiting, Memorial Day unofficially kicks off boating season in the Ozarks but there are a few things to keep in mind to stay safe.

With the holiday and warmer weather, lakes like Table Rock Lake and Stockton Lake will be a hot spot to cool off.

Corporal Michael McClure with the Missouri State Highway Patrol says staying safe on the water starts at the dock.

"If your boat has been sitting a while and its not been winterized, say its been in storage maybe in your garage, make sure you open the engine compartments up."

McClure says avoiding bad connections can prevent fires on board.

"We have to make sure that we don't have a combination of the fuel vapor and ignition source coming together and causing a fire."

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Vice Commander Brock Stephens helps check boats before they sail off.

He says, if there is one thing to remember, having a life jacket can be the difference between life and death.

"The common theme when you talk to survivors they say it happened so fast I didn't have time to get to our life jackets."

"As you can tell when somebody is wearing this, its designed to do two things. If you go in head first, its designed to put you face up and bring your head up out of the water," shows Stephens.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 379 of the 651 drowning deaths in 2012 did not have a life jacket.

"Its a simple point but life jackets do save lives and its been shown time after time all we have to do is wear them."

Kara Warren says whether your vessel is controlled by a motor or paddle, water can be dangerous without life jackets.

"I think its Missouri state law that anyone seven years or younger have to wear a jacket."

Warren teaches safety in kayaks and canoes on the water in Springfield.

"We do clinics on canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding."

Stephens and McClure says enjoying the water is simple as long as you follow the rules.

"Know whats around you, know who is around you there are sometimes when we are out there having a good time, so worried about having a good time that we kind of misplace who is around you."

"The biggest thing that we emphasize is just keep your head on a swivel, make sure that your brain is still attached and you didn't leave it in the vehicle with your other items."
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