It’ll be “all hands on deck” during the July 4th holiday weekend as state game wardens take to crowded and in some cases dangerously low Texas lakes to enforce boating laws.
“Realizing the potential danger and the high number of water fatalities we’ve had so far this year, we’ll have a high profile on the water this weekend and be even more vigilant in our boating safety enforcement,” said Jeff Parrish, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Assistant Chief for Marine Law Enforcement.
Game Wardens and marine safety enforcement officers across the state will have their boats on the water this weekend looking for intoxicated operators, Parrish said. Wardens also will be checking boats to make sure there is a personal flotation device available for each person on board and that children under the age of 13 are wearing one.
“The dangerous wild card this year is the drought,” Parrish continued. “Boaters need to remember that many of our lakes are very low. On top of that, a higher than normal number of boats on the water because of the holiday means people really need to pay attention to their surroundings.
Parrish urged boaters to keep an eye out for everything from people in the water to shallow structures that could sink or damage a boat.
Low water levels have led some river authorities to ban the use of personal watercrafts on their lakes over the July 4th weekend. Other steps on some lakes include prohibiting the pulling of people on inner tubes and the use of high-speed boats. Best bet: Before heading to a particular lake, do some research.
“Bottom line, we want the public to enjoy themselves on the water this weekend and not be at risk of property damage, injury or death because of an irresponsible boater,” Parrish said.
For more boating safety tips see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fishboat/boat/safety/safety_tips/.
Mike Cox, 512-389-8046, firstname.lastname@example.org