Weather tips keep boaters safe

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division wants to remind boaters to be mindful of the weather as they plan and carry out boating excursions.

Louisiana has already seen four fatalities and three rescues so far in 2022 on large lakes where weather and conditions reportedly changed quickly. Vessels were capsized, swamped or submerged as a result of abrupt weather changes. Boarters should always make themselves and their crew aware of all potential dangers that could occur during an outing.

Before departure, always check the Marine forecast to see if there will be any significant changes in weather conditions while on the water. A boat’s size, range and current running condition should also be taken into account. This, and weather reports, should help boaters determine if it’s safe to take a boat trip or if adjustments need to be made.

“It is the responsibility of the operator to decide to continue or make adjustments to the trip,” said Maj. Clay Marques, Boating Law Administrator for Louisiana. “No matter the boater’s skill or capability level, weather changes can be rapid and can quickly turn a fun situation into a dangerous one. At the end of the day, we want every boater to enjoy their experience and return home safely.”

If a boater is on the water and a thunderstorm approaches, ensure all occupants are wearing their properly-fitted life jackets and head toward the nearest safe shore. Weather such as strong winds, storms, lighting and fog can cause dangerous situations even on static waters with little or no current or tide movement.

Various apps are available on most smart phones that can provide warnings of approaching weather and provide boaters with the best information to make decisions. VHF radioes also have alerts.

LDWF agents are tasked with recreational boating safety for the state. Agents encourage all citizens to take the free safe boating education course that is also mandatory for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1984. To register, visit the LDWF boater education website.

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