TYLER, Texas — Hundreds of East Texans will hit the lake this weekend ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. While the annual holiday is a time of celebration and community, it's also a time when Game Wardens see boater's safety at risk.
Todd Long, Texas Game Warden for Gregg County, said some of the common risk factors they see in boater incidents is high levels of alcohol consumption along with other risk factors.
"The increased risk with alcohol, varying levels of boater experience, late weather conditions," Long said. "There's a lot of different factors that play a part in making holiday weekends dangerous."
Long advises if you plan to drink alcohol while boating his weekend, to drink in moderation to avoid high levels of consumption.
"We encourage boaters that are going to be having drinks to drink responsibly, have a designated driver, or best yet just avoid alcohol," Long said.
Texas Game Wardens will be out patrolling several lakes and rivers along with inspections to ensure your boat has the property safety equipment.
"We will be checking alcohol, the water safety life jackets, throw cushions, fire extinguishers, [and] navigation lights," Long said. "Those are just some items we'll be checking with boaters throughout the weekend."
If you happen to be driving your boat out during the late hours or during late firework shows, make sure your navigation lights are on.
"There's gonna be a lot of firework shows out there on the lakes," Long said Folks have your navigation lights on between sunset and sunrise, gotta have those lights on so other boaters can see you."
Before you hit the lake, Long advises new and veteran boaters to look over boater safety tips and training on their website. This will help to ensure boaters follow the proper safety measures and courtesy to keep you and other boaters around you safe.
"We encourage boaters to just slow down, be smart, and use common sense," Long said. "Be familiar with your boat, the lake you're going to, take swimming lessons, and supervise your kids. Just common courtesy on a busy weekend like what we have upon us."
Boaters must have a kill switch attached to the driver of the boat. This will help to ensure the boat stops in case the driver gets ejected from the boat.