Keeping kids and grownups safe while they're in the water is the goal of a special program on area lakes. The Corps of Engineers has loaner life jackets available for boaters and swimmers. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports emergency crews say they don't want to see a repeat of last year's deadly Memorial Day weekend.
Last Memorial Day weekend, two people drowned on back to back days at Oologah Lake. It was a sad and startling reminder of how things can quickly become tragic.
"Two in two days which is very rare, but it just goes to prove that it can happen anytime anywhere," said park ranger Amanda Peters.
Statewide, five people drowned in Oklahoma lakes last Memorial Day weekend. That's more than the previous five Memorial Day weekends combined.
"You know that's the hardest part, having to tell the family they have lost someone," said Randy Green of Oklahoma Lake Patrol.
The Oklahoma Lake Patrol and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hopes to prevent another deadly holiday weekend. The corps provides loaner life jackets at most lakes statewide.
"If you want to borrow a life jacket you just come up to the gate shack, you sign it out, show your driverâ€™s license, write down a phone number and then at the end of the day, you return it to the gate shack," said Peters.
The program is called the Brittany Project. It was started in 1999 by the mother of a four-year-old girl who drowned. Supporters say having life jackets on hand, will mean people are more likely to use them.
"They either forgot to bring them, or didn't bring enough,â€ said Green. â€œWith this loaner program we can give them what they need to get them through the day or whatever they need to get through for that day.â€
"Make them accessible so people will wear them," Peters said.
The Corps of Engineers says none of last year's drowning victims were wearing life jackets. They also say there were a number of near drownings, and even in those close calls, the victims weren't wearing life jackets either.
Watch the video: Program Making Sure Boaters Stay Safe Over The Holiday Weekend
Related water safety stories:
5/23/2007 - Staying Safe Over The Holiday Weekend
5/23/2007 - The Dangers Of Summer Fun