As Missouri highways get a work out this weekend, the Memorial Day holiday is also an unofficial start to the boating season.
Thousands of people are swarming the Lake of the Ozarks in boats and jet skis as they kick off their summer fun.
Boating is a great pastime and Missouri Water Patrol Officers want everyone to enjoy themselves. Officer Stacey Mosher patrols her boat near Party Cove and the Grand Glaize Bridge at the Lake of the Ozarks. Mosher wants boaters to wear a lifejacket, and obey boat safety laws. She says one of the biggest problems at the lake is drunk boaters.
Mosher said, "Watch your alcohol consumption. Understand that has a big difference when you combine it with the heat and the action of the water. The affects of the alcohol are magnified when you are out on the boat."
No one drowned during last year's Memorial Day weekend. However, there were 8 boating accidents with 8 injuries and 0 fatalities. Officers arrested 38 people for boating while intoxicated. Just like on the road, water patrol officers suggest you find a designated driver to operate your boat.
Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends at the Lake of the Ozarks. People are out on the water 24 hours a day. The difference between safety when the sun is shining and when the sun goes down is the same difference as night and day.
Mosher said, "We have swimmers out here. We have kayakers. We have all kinds of people that do come out in the water at night time. I've come across some people in air raft in the middle of a channel. You have to be really paying attention at night."
Kent McGinnis had his boat on the Lake of the Ozarks this Memorial Day weekend and said his biggest safety problem was dealing with people on jet skis.
McGinnis said, "They think they need to jump the waves behind you. They're not paying attention to the other boats."
Missouri Water Patrol officers said everyone will enjoy a safe summer at the lake as long as everyone is courteous to others on the water.
Missouri Water Patrol officers suggest that you operate your boat at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas.