Game wardens remind boaters of laws, safety precautions for July 4th weekend
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - In 2021, the U.S. Coast Guard recorded nearly 4,500 accidents and more than 650 deaths tied to recreational boating. That’s actually more than a 15% decrease from 2020.
As everyone heads to the lake for this holiday weekend, Lubbock area game wardens are reminding boat operators to stay sober and pack the proper safety equipment.
“Intoxicated operators are one of the primary things that lead to accidents on the water,” Lieutenant Aaron Sims with the Texas Parks and Wildlife department said. “They’re family members, friends and loved ones...that’s not okay.”
Sims says here in Texas, dozens of arrests were made for boating while intoxicated over July 4th weekend last year.
“When you’re on the water, it’s a dangerous combination to be intoxicated and not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties,” Sims said.
That’s why Lt. Sims says it’s important to drink responsibly, think ahead and have a plan before going out.
“If you end up having too many, call a buddy,” Sims said. “Call a friend. Have somebody jump in that boat that knows how to operate it that is sober. Or better yet, designate that sober operator before you get on the lake.”
Doing that could potentially save lives.
“Tell them thank you and they’ll tell you thank you, because you won’t possibly ruin their lives,” Sims said.
Across Texas last year, agencies issued nearly 1,500 citations for boating while intoxicated, and other boating violations over the holiday weekend - many of them for not packing the proper safety equipment.
Every vessel must have an updated registration card, a horn or whistle, fire extinguisher, type 4 throwable cushion, and life jacket.
Boating without those tools can lead to a Class C misdemeanor and up to a $500 fine for each violation.
“Wear your life jacket. Everybody wear a life jacket,” Sims said. “Anyone under 13 has to by law wear one at all times.”
Those jackets must be Coast Guard approved and appropriately rated for each individual. If you’re using an inflatable jacket its important to check the expiration date.
The same goes for your fire extinguisher.
“If you get a fire back there on a motorboat, it goes quick,” Sims said. “So be able to get and access that fire extinguisher and make sure that it is serviceable.”
State law also requires anyone who is born after September 1, 1993 to pass a boater safety course and to carry a boater education card.
You can take that course and renew your boats registration online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
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