TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Game Wardens will be patrolling through out East Texas Lakes this weekend and they’ve given KETK some tips that will keep everyone safe on the water.
Things like life jackets for everyone onboard and a marine-grade fire extinguisher are required for all boats on the water, according to the Texas Game Wardens. Additionally if your boat is 16-feet or longer you’ll need a Coast Guard approved throwable device on board as well.
“Life jackets are one of the easiest, most accessible tools to prevent fatalities,” said Cody Jones, Texas Game Warden Assistant Commander for Marine Enforcement. “If an accident occurs, it is unlikely you will have time to find a life jacket and secure it properly, so it’s best to wear one at all times when on the water.”
A main focus for patrolling Texas Game Wardens is alcohol. The Texas Game Wardens will test anyone if they find any indicators of alcohol use by seeing if they don’t pass a “float test” and then taking them to the shore for a Standardized Field Sobriety Test.
“As a Game Warden’s focus, our main focus is keeping the people safe on the water and in the swimming areas. So our main focus, Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July and in the beginning of summer is alcohol to make sure no one is intoxicated while their operating a jet ski or a boat,” said Chris Swift, Smith County Game Warden.
The Texas Game Wardens said that they’ve already responded to 35 drownings and 22 boat related fatalities this summer. Last summer Texas Game Wardens added that they issued 305 citations and 433 warnings for boating safety violations over Labor Day weekend.
Its also important to stay safe by focusing on safety even when your wading into the water. Steps like wearing a life jacket, learning to swim, using the ignition safety switch in a boat, checking the weather and participating in boater education classes could save lives.
“With increased boating traffic over the holiday weekend, boaters need to maintain a safe speed and keep a constant watch for other boaters and swimmers in the water,” said Kimberly Sorensen, Boater Education Manager.
To learn more about water safety visit the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife online.