PRATT – The fourth of July holiday usually means three things for Kansans: fireworks, BBQ, and of course, open water. Make this holiday everything it should be, including safe, by keeping the following things in mind while on and around water.
-State park beaches do not have lifeguards. Parents should keep a close eye on youngsters and it’s a good idea to strap little ones into properly-fitting life jackets. A toddler can disappear in an instant on a crowded beach. Older kids love to play on inflatable water toys but care must be exercised under windy conditions. A stiff Kansas wind blowing out from the beach can sweep floaters away from shore surprisingly fast.
-Over the holiday weekend, reservoirs will be busy and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) boating officers will be out keeping waters safe. Familiarize yourself with boating regulations and safety requirements, especially those concerning life jackets, ahead of time. Children age 12 and younger must wear a properly-fitting life jacket while on the boat, and there must be a serviceable life jacket readily accessible for everyone older than 12 onboard. KDWPT strongly encourages everyone on the boat to wear life jackets at all times while on the water.
-While boating accidents aren’t common on Kansas waters, they do have a common theme: alcohol. Sun, waves and heat exacerbate the effects of alcohol on judgment and coordination. Anyone planning on driving a boat should know that boating under the influence (BUI) is against the law.
-Weather conditions can change quickly as summer thunderstorms build and bring high winds. Know the forecast, watch the sky, and check weather updates periodically while at the lake to prevent being caught by surprise miles from a boat ramp.
Water recreation at Kansas state parks is safe and getting safer, but there is always some risk. However, if you make just a few precautions routine, you can ensure that your family has fun and stays safe this holiday and summer season.