The Army Corps of Engineers say the majority of drownings can be prevented with one lifesaving step: wearing a lifejacket. And with the lakes packed for the July 4 holiday, park rangers will be out in full force to make sure people are celebrating in a safe way.
Park Rangers with the Army Corps of Engineers are putting forth their best effort to educate any and everyone on how to be safe out on the water.
"With the drownings we continue to see, we really strongly recommend people wear their jackets," said Col. Michael Teague. "Lifejackets float. You don't. So wear the lifejackets."
In Oklahoma, it's a state law that children 12 and under wear a lifejacket when in a boat. But Park Ranger Travis Miller takes it one step further.
"Always have them in a lifejacket, even if you don't plan on going in the water. If you're anywhere close to the water, put your kids in a life jacket," Miller said.
Whether on the boat or in the water, Ted Mack and his stepson stay vested up.
"I'm not a good swimmer so I make sure I wear mine, I sure do," said Mack.
Teague says, unlike Mack, many people are simply overconfident in their swimming abilities because they just don't grasp how strong a lake current can be.
"We've had folks jump out of boats and say ‘Well I can swim to shore.' And 40 yards in open water is a long-long way and they can't do it," Teague said.
And 10-year-old Ken Eck seems to get it.
"A pool is mostly clean where you can see and swim without a lifejacket where you can touch or swim. But in the lakes you could like catch your foot on something and drown," Eck said.
For now, Eck says his life jacket is here to stay. And the Army Corps of Engineers made it a little easier by setting him up with a better fitting life vest.
"We want folks to come out and have a good time, have a great time, but the main thing is that we want them to be able to go home at the end of the day," said Miller.
Park Rangers say one of the most common problems they see out on the water is careless operation, whether on a boat or wave runner. Rangers also want to remind everyone that just like on the road, it's against the law to drink alcohol while operating a boat.