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Tips To Keep You Safe On The Water This Fourth Of July

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Many of you will be loading up boats or wave runners and heading out for some fun on the water this long Fourth of July holiday.

Unfortunately, many people will be injured or even killed in boating accidents by not following simple, common sense safety rules.

Wednesday, Blake McCaughey and his 7-year old-son Stone, both from Hernando, Miss., went fishing at Arkabutla Lake.

Before they got in their boat they both put on life jackets, an important part of safe boating.

McCaughey says when he's steering their boat he's constantly paying attention to what's going on around him.

"Your eyes are kind of always on a swivel," he said. "Just looking around and making sure your not getting in the way of other boaters. And they've got things in the water like 'no wake' zones where you don't go fast."

Mid-South lakes and waterways are expected to be crowded during this long Fourth of July holiday.

But this national day of celebration can end in tragedy for careless boaters.

Donald Davenport of Lucy, Tenn., doesn't want his holiday to end in tragedy.

He stays alert when he's at the wheel of his 44-foot pleasure boat named "My Dream."

Before heading onto the Mississippi River for a short trip, he said navigating "Old Man River" is a whole different experience.

"Well, you got all that current out there," Davenport said. "And you got logs floating down the river. And you got barge traffic. You got to keep your eyes opened."

But water safety rules apply everywhere and U.S. Coast Guard Bosun's Mate Barry Bernaby is out to see the rules are obeyed,

"We enforce serious laws," he said.

Bernaby and three other Coast Guard members left Memphis Wednesday morning with their patrol boat in tow.

They were headed to Lake Hamilton in Arkansas, but not to party for the holiday. They'll be cruising the water, along with local law enforcement, to make sure the party doesn't get out of hand,

"A lot of times people go out on weekends, especially big weekends like this, and enjoy it by drinking. So we want to make sure that they're safe on the water."

Here are some boating safety tips to remember:

> Don't operate a boat while intoxicated.
> Always have enough life jackets on board.
> Don't overload your boat with too many people.
> Avoid horseplay on the water.
> Check the weather forecast for your area.