Labor Day Weekend is one of the top boating weekends of the year on many Oklahoma lakes and rivers, attracting thousands to the alluring banks and warmest water of the season. To keep things fun and safe, the Marine Enforcement Section of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol suggests the following as you plan your water getaway:
- Check local weather conditions before departure. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile or rough winds or sudden drops in temperatures, stay off the water.
- Create and follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten or overlooked.
- Have a first-aid kit, signaling devices, a boat anchor and a cell phone on board in case of emergencies.
- Designate an assistant boat operator in case the primary operator is injured or incapacitated in any way.
- Inform family or friends of your plans, where you are going, and how long you are going to be gone.
- Make sure everyone is assigned a proper-fitting life jacket. Oklahoma law requires children 12 and younger to wear a life jacket at all times while boating.
- Know how to swim. If for any reason you are ejected from the boat, be prepared to swim to safety.
- Avoid alcohol while boating. It is illegal to operate or physically control a boat if the boat operator is under the influence of alcohol.
“Nearly all boating accidents are preventable,” said Capt. Victor Lee of the Marine Enforcement Section. To ensure that summer is both fun and safe, it is vital that all boaters remain attentive, wear proper personal flotation devices and take precautions to avoid major accidents.
“Some of the most heart-wrenching experiences we have are when we search for drowning victims or work fatality collisions. Such times are very difficult for families and for our troopers,” Lee said. “Please exercise extreme caution while on the water.”