DANIA BEACH (CBSMiami) — The weather is clearing up just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Many people will be hitting the roads and water to enjoy the holiday weekend but authorities want you to remember to put safety first.

Before you take the plunge and head out boating this holiday weekend, which is the unofficial start of summer, be sure to take refresher course.

Memorial Day weekend boating traffic is traditionally heavy and boaters must take every necessary precaution.

“Take a boating safety course, get the boat inspected, the coast guard gives free inspections, said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti at a boating safety news conference Friday. “Everyone needs to have a life jacket, under the age of six its required to wear, but there should be one for every person.”

BSO has teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to keep our waterways safe.

Boaters should expect to see extra patrols on the water and don’t be surprised if you get stopped for a routine check.

“Every summer unfortunately someone dies in Florida because of carelessness on the waterway, with these kinds of partnerships hopefully one year we won’t have to tell a family member someone died,” said the FWC’s Jorge Pino.

So far this year, 17 people have died statewide in boating accidents.

According to the FWC, inattentiveness of the boat operator often contributes to boating accidents, and statistics show that more than 64 percent of the 66 boating-related deaths confirmed last year were attributed to drowning, so it’s clear that personal flotation devices save lives.

Boaters like Ryan Jacobson said he knows what should be happening.

“They have to have their safety gear, have a plan in case something goes wrong and be careful,” Jacobson said.

If you are heading out on the seas, FWC and BSO said you should:

  • Take a safety course
  • Have life jackets
  • Share your plan
  • Monitor the weather
  • Have a designated operator

And don’t think that the focus will be completely on the water. Extra patrols from law enforcement across South Florida will try to keep the roads safe while you have your fun over the holiday weekend.

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