ALEA warning to prepare your boat now for Memorial Day weekend

Make sure you stay safe on the water this summer
Published: May. 20, 2023 at 10:00 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Memorial Day weekend begins in only one week and if you’re heading out on the lake, state troopers say you need to prepare your boat now.

The holiday weekend is one of the busiest weekends out on the water with thousand of Alabamians planning to spend it on state waterways. ALEA Sgt. Jeremy Burkett says more people and more boats can sometimes result in more incidents.

“Oftentimes, especially under the lowlight hours, the causes for the vessel crashes that we see our BUIs -- that’s boating under the influence,” said Sgt. Burkett. “We do believe there’s been evidence where you’ll see somebody that may fall off a vessel or potentially drown and oftentimes, alcohol is involved.”

Whether you’re a driver or passenger, Sgt. Burkett says leaving the alcohol at home is the safest option. Something you should bring aboard though: enough safety gear.

“Children under the age of 8, so 8 and below are required to have it on,” he explains. “But really as just a precautionary measure, if you have a child that’s on a vessel, we strongly urge you to make sure they have that Coast Guard approved flotation device on and we can’t stress that enough.”

He says it could be the difference between life and death, adding every person (child or adult) should have a life jacket on board ready and accessible.

There’s a few other things that should be added to your to-do list now before the holiday weekend gets here.

“If you don’t make sure you got your life jackets, that you got your kill switch, that you got enough fuel in the vessel, that your lights are working properly, maybe that you’ve got an extra battery for your vessel in case the original battery goes down.. If you don’t have that checklist and have all that equipment and you get out there in the water, then you can be stranded, especially during lowlight hours,” said Sgt. Burkett.

ALEA will be offering free courtesy boat inspections this Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon at several lakes:

- Pickwick Lake (Florence): Florence Harbor Marina – McFarland Park

- Lake Guntersville: City Harbor Marina

- Logan Martin Lake: Riverside City Boat Ramp

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