Tips to stay safe on the water over Memorial Day weekend

Tips to stay safe on the water over Memorial Day weekend

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As many head out by the water to cool off for the holiday weekend, the Coast Guard and Red Cross have some tips to stay safe.

Ahead of a sweltering Memorial Day Weekend, some families headed to the lake to find some relief.

"I'm just out here enjoying the weather with my kids. I wanted to take them out swimming because it's a hot day," Danielle Smith said.

However, several drownings in the gulf in recent months is a reminder to stay safe in the water.

"The easiest thing somebody can do to keep themselves safe when they're out on the water is wear a life jacket," Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Travis Magee said.

In Louisiana, anyone under 16-years-old must wear a life jacket if they’re out on a boat, but the Coast Guard recommends everyone wear one.

Just like drinking and driving, drinking while operating a boat isn't allowed.

"We want everyone to have a good time when they're out on their boats this Memorial Day Weekend, but it's extremely dangerous and illegal to boat while under the influence of alcohol," Magee said.

Parents should also be aware of their kids’ swimming levels. Red Cross advises being in open water requires higher swimming capabilities.

"We recommend that kids definitely follow all the rules of the pool, and then also have a buddy system so that you're watching out for somebody, making sure you're the first one to notice when somebody's getting tired and suggest taking a break," Katy Sandusky with Red Cross Spokesperson Katy Sandusky said.

Those swimming in the gulf also risk unexpected hazards.

"If you're in a rip current, the most important thing is to stay calm, and to swim with the rip current, and then calmly notify someone on shore that you do need help. You don't want to panic, you don't want to try to swim against the rip current," Sandusky said.

“I actually get in the water with my kids. So that’s how I feel like I make sure they safe, because I make sure they’re in the water, I make sure they have their towels, and i make sure they’re not getting it in their systems,” Smith said.

The Coast Guard also recommends having a float plan, by notifying family and friends know when going boating, and when the anticipated return is so they can contact authorities in a bad situation.

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