As Labor Day weekend approaches, GRDA urges safe boating
Staff Reports Special to the Progress
Even as summer 2013 begins to wind down, thousands are gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend on the waters of Grand and Hudson lakes.
Whether they are coming to ski, swim, fish, sail or just cruise, lake enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the approximately 70,000 surface acres of water managed by the Grand River Dam Authority.
However, because crowds are expected, the GRDA Police Department does want to remind lake visitors to boat safe, boat smart and boat sober during the holiday weekend.
As always, GRDA officers will be on the waters to assist boaters, promote lake safety and enforce lake rules and regulations.
To help insure a safe outing, GRDA offers a few tips which every boater should know.
• Wear a life jacket. According to the latest data available from the United States Coast Guard (2012 Life Jacket Wear Rate Observational Study) there were 533 drowning deaths in 2011. Unfortunately, 415 of those individuals were NOT wearing a life jacket. In other words, approximately 84 percent of those deaths might have been prevented if life jackets were in use.
• Know the water and environment you will be boating on. Check the weather and water conditions and know where hazards like sandbars or stump beds may be located.
• Keep a good lookout while underway. According to United States Coast Guard statistics, operator inattention and improper lookout continue to be among the top five leading factors in most boating accidents.
• Shut your engines off when people are in the water near your boat.
• Observe the nautical “rules of the road.”
• Check the weather forecast before getting underway.
• Keep a balanced load and trim boat.
• Don’t overload your boat.
• Don’t ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or any place that is not designated for sitting.
• Finally, don’t drink and boat. Alcohol use continues to be the single leading factor contributing to boating accidents. Don’t become a statistic.
Also, please be aware of the signs, buoys, sirens, fencing and flashing lights you may see around Pensacola Dam, Robert S. Kerr Dam and the Salina Pumped Storage Project. These are all intended to notify you of areas where water may rise swiftly, no trespassing or no diving is allowed or footing is unstable.
GRDA also reminds visitors that Labor Day weekend is the last chance to take advantage of this summer’s free tours of historic Pensacola Dam. Not only is the dam Oklahoma’s first hydroelectric facility, but it is also a member of the National Register of Historic Places. Tours originate from the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center, located just west of the dam. Remember to wear comfortable shoes (there is a fair amount of walking involved) and dress for the weather if you are planning on taking the tour.
Finally, due to Homeland Security regulations, all persons over 18 are required to present some form of ID. Please be prepared to show that before taking the free tour of an Oklahoma structure that has captured the interest of the public since 1940.
Whether you are coming to the water, to the shore, to the dam tour or, perhaps all three, GRDA encourages you to keep these tips in mind as you enjoy the Labor Day weekend. For more information on water safety, boating regulations or free tours of historic Pensacola Dam, visit grda.com or call (918) 782 4726.