East Texas Game Wardens urge boating safety for Memorial Day weekend

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – As summer quickly approaches, you can smell the grill and hear the music blasting. With millions headed outdoors for Memorial Day weekend, the Smith County Game Wardens want to make sure everyone is keeping safety in mind.

“On a normal Memorial Day Weekend, its really the first big weekend, you see with boaters, pontoon boaters, jet skies, with the COVID this year, it’s been Memorial Day Weekend for two months,” said Chris Swift, with the Smith County Game Wardens.

As May progresses, Gov. Greg Abbott has announced several phases of reopening for Texas leading many to start venturing out into the public including lakes and highways.

“Its been bad but good, I just miss going outside and seeing the sun mostly,” said Zariah Palmer, as she has fun with her friends at Lake Tyler.

For Palmer, coming to the lake with her friends has become a regular event. Living with roommates, the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t necessarily stopped her from seeing the people she is close to. However, when going out in public, she is taking some precautions.

“We always wear a mask in public, and if we go anywhere we wash our hands and keep a bunch of germ-ex, like pocket germ-ex everywhere we go,” explained Palmer.

To protect those around you, law enforcement encourages the public to remember the following while navigating the water.

  • Don’t Drink and Operate a Boat: It can be just as deadly as driving while intoxicated, and has been the cause of nearly 20% of boating accidents.
  • Wear a Life Jacket: 85% of people who drown are not wearing a life jacket. Under Texas Law, anyone under the age of 13 is required to wear one.
  • Do your Research: Experts suggest you research and know how to operate your boat inside and out before getting behind the wheel

With a rainy Memorial Day weekend in store across East Texas, weather can also be a major factor in staying safe while out on the water.

“Like today, lightning would be the main concern. When we have storms come up in the summertime, we want people to make sure that their boat can handle the weather coming in,” explained Swift. “A lot of people will just launch any kind of boat, and we’ll have a wind advisory, a lot of times we end up going out and getting these people, or they might capsize their boat so we encourage people to watch the weather.”

The City of Tyler is encouraging everyone who will be out to continue practicing social distancing.

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