METAIRIE, La (WGNO) –– With Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, many boating enthusiasts are eagerly preparing to take to the waterways, but the Coast Guard warns that not prioritizing safety could be deadly.

Recreational Safety Boating Specialist Paul Barnard said, “Before you ever hit the water, check the weather forecast, check the equipment on your boat to make sure that it’s all there.”

Some of the supplies you should have on hand are:

  • Survival Tools: Waterproof flashlight, multipurpose knife, flares, and a personal locator beacon (PLB).
  • First Aid Supplies: Bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and prescription medications.
  • Food and Water: Non-perishable food items and bottled water. Remember to rotate your supplies regularly.
  • Protection Against Elements: Warm and dry with thermal blankets, rain gear, sunscreen, bug spray, and hats.
  • Emergency Communication and Navigation: Compass, waterproof charts, and a whistle to aid navigation and alert rescuers.
  • You can find more supplies listed on the US Coast Guard’s Facebook page.

Barnard also suggested having a safety briefing with everyone on board, “Talk about what you’re going to do if things go wrong, if somebody falls overboard, if there’s any kind of issue just so that they’re familiar with what’s going to happen during those emergencies.”

But it’s about more than having the equipment on board. “Having it and using it and having and using extra equipment is what saves lives.”

For more boating safety tips, visit the USCG Heartland Facebook page.

Stay updated with the latest news, weather, and sports by downloading the WGNO app on the Apple or Google Play store and subscribing to the WGNO newsletter.