May 21, 2002
Methodist Rehabilitation Center, Reservoir Patrol remind Mississippi boaters to 'think first' about safety this summer
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
RANKIN COUNTY, Miss.—Methodist Rehabilitation Center and the Reservoir Patrol at the Ross Barnett Reservoir are teaming up to remind Mississippi boaters to always think first about safety this summer, especially during the long Memorial Day weekend.
“The most common accidents we see involve the reckless operation of boats or people who’ve drowned because they weren’t wearing life vests,” said Reservoir Patrol Chief James Stepp. “Often boats get too close to other boats, travel too fast, jump wakes and circle other boats too closely.”
Another problem on the state’s lakes and rivers is boating while intoxicated.
“People need to remember that operating a boat while intoxicated is a criminal offense punishable by fine, imprisonment or loss of their privilege to operate a boat,” said Stepp. “And in Mississippi a blood alcohol level of .10 percent or greater indicates intoxication.”
Other boating rules and regulations include:
- All boats must have a horn that works properly.
- Boats with an enclosed gas tank are required to have a fire extinguisher.
- Boats 16 feet and longer must have one wearable life jacket for each person on board and one throw-able life jacket.
- All water skiers, operators and passengers of waverunners and jet skis must wear a life jacket.
- While pulling a water-skier, an observer who is not the boat’s operator, is required. The observer must be age 10 or older.
- Children under the age of 12 must wear an approved life jacket when aboard a boat. The boat must be anchored or moored before children may remove their life jackets.
- Children under the age of 12 are not allowed to operate a boat unless accompanied by an adult who is 21 or older and who has taken a boating safety course. Proof of the completion of the course must be carried onboard while the boat is operating.
- Anyone born after June 30, 1980 must successfully complete an approved boating safety course prior to operating any motorized vessel. Proof of the completion of the course must be carried onboard while the boat is operating.
On May 24, Methodist Rehab and the Reservoir Patrol will promote the second annual Sammy Safety Boat Patrol which reminds children and adults to always wear their life jackets, follow safe boating rules and to always act responsibly on and in the water.
“Sammy is a certified safety superhero who works with the physicians and staff at Methodist Rehabilitation Center to encourage people to think first before they get into any potentially dangerous situation,” said Lauren Fairburn, director to Think First, the Jackson hospital’s statewide safety and injury prevention program. “Sammy and Reservoir officers will be on the water Friday giving boaters safety and injury prevention information and reminding them to be safe this summer. Both children and adults are very responsive when they meet Sammy. They really seem to understand his message and we hope they learn to always think first about safety and injury prevention.”
The Think First injury prevention program is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on boating, swimming, diving, bicycle, automobile and firearm safety.
Each year an estimated 500,000 people sustain brain and spinal cord injuries in the United States. The most frequent causes of these injuries are boating or water-related accidents, especially diving, automobile crashes, athletic injuries and violence. Children and teens are at high-risk for these devastating injuries, many of which are preventable.
“We work closely with schools, health care professionals and fire and police departments to do all we can to prevent traumatic, often life-changing injuries,” said Fairburn.
Think First speakers, including accident victims, physical therapists, paramedics and physicians, are available to speak to assemblies at elementary and high schools in Mississippi.
Sammy Safety, Methodist Rehabilitation Center's injury prevention mascot, reminds Mississippi boaters to think first about safety this summer.