Safety a top focus as boaters head out to Kentucky's waterways

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MERCER COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Memorial Day brings about the start of summer boating season in Kentucky. Many people will head to Kentucky's waterways and lakes for the holiday weekend. In addition to the increase in boaters, people will also notice more officials on the lake.

Keith Gribbins of Lancaster launched his boat in Lake Harrington on Friday.

"Don't care about the weather. Gonna have some fun," Gribbins said.

Before the fun began, Conservation Officer Jason Wells stopped to make sure Gribbins's boat is up to speed.

"You need to make sure your registration is up-to-date and that everyone on the boat has a life jacket," Officer Wells said.

By law, kids under 12 must wear a life jacket when the boat is in motion.

"If they get thrown from the boat on a big wave, hit their head or break a bone... they could be a great swimmer, but they'll never make it because they can't swim."

In addition to life jackets, Officer Wells recommends that boaters carry a throw pillow.

"You can throw it like a frisbee. This will really fly out there, 50-75 feet and really save someone's life."

A fire extinguisher is also important to keep on board.

"A lot of people say 'I'm on all this water. Why do I need a fire extinguisher?' It's gasoline fire. It's going to spread on top of the water," Wells said. "You're going to need that fire extinguisher to put it out."

Once on the water, Officer Wells said boaters should use caution before jumping in to cool off.

"We'll see people swimming from dock to dock. It's illegal to swim from channel to channel across the lake. And remember to stay off the edges."

Officer Wells also wants to remind boaters it is against the law in Kentucky to drink alcohol on a boat that's out on the lake.

"Don't' drink. And wear a life jacket."

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