ST. LOUIS – As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the U.S. Coast Guard has some safety tips and reminders for anyone planning to head out on the water.
“The river’s always changing. There’s constant shoaling,” said Lt. John Hancock, U.S. Coast Guard.
One hidden danger in the Mississippi River – chevrons. Earlier this week, a yacht from Florida struck a chevron south of the McKinley Bridge and began to take on water. Two men were rescued. As of Thursday afternoon, the boat remains lodged on that chevron.
Chevrons are U-shaped rock structures that are built parallel to the flow of the river.
Memorial Day weekend is a big weekend for boaters, not only on the river but also on the lakes. The Coast Guard said those can be dangerous waters if you’re not prepared.
“Anytime you’re transiting the river, the bottom of the river is constantly changing,” Lt. Colby LaDuque, U.S. Coast Guard Chief Enforcement Officer, said. “And so, it’s hard to get a good grasp if you’re not constantly checking information broadcast put up by the Coast Guard, or checking your charts, and also checking the tide range.”
The Coast Guard said it’s important to make sure you have all the required safety gear on board.
“You want to make sure your boat plug is in, you want to make sure you have a float plan. Tell people where you’re going, what time you plan on getting underway, what time you plan on getting back to the dock,” Hancock said.
Aside from knowing who’s on board, keep a description of your vessel and contact information handy.
Another concern this weekend is drowning. According to the Coast Guard, 4-out-of-5 deaths on the water in 2022 were the result of drowning.
“Eight-three percent of those people were not wearing a life jacket, so we really recommend that everybody has a life jacket on board and is wearing it at all times,” LaDuque said.