Safety Urged On Oklahoma Lakes This Holiday Weekend

Thursday, September 2nd 2010, 4:47 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

SKIATOOK LAKE, OKLAHOMA -- Green Country marinas are gearing up for a big holiday weekend and area lakes will be packed.

After a high number of drownings among young men this summer, experts are urging boaters to be extra careful this holiday weekend.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers says that of 14 drowning in the Tulsa area this summer, 12 of the victims were men, and many of them were drinking. The Corp hopes those numbers don't increase this weekend.

There was no one on the water at Skiatook Lake Thursday, but with lake levels normal, and temperatures expected to dip into the 80's, that won't be the case this weekend.

"Cleaning everything up early, getting the docks ready. Making sure we have plenty of soda, food, all rest," said Ron Howell, Cross Timbers. "Because it gets wild. We have 450 slips."

Labor Day has gotten bigger each year at Cross Timbers, which opened five years ago. To meet demand, the development has more than quadrupled its number of slips.

And this year opened up a number of cottages that come with impressive views of the lake. While business is brisk, more people also means more of an emphasis on safety.

"We work closely with the Corp on their program. It's a wonderful program. Trying to make people aware of the dangers of water," Howell said.

Those dangers have resulted in 14 drownings in Green Country lakes this summer. Half of the victims were drinking, and all but one was not wearing life jackets.

"We've had a couple of drowning out there where people thought they could swim across the lake," Colonel Michael Teague, Army Corp of Engineers, said. "They thought they could swim out to a boat. They can't. We're not bulletproof."

With a busy weekend about to get underway, the Corp hopes to wrap up the summer with an uneventful holiday.

"We want everyone to wear a life jacket when they're out. The point is to enjoy these great lakes, have a lot of fun at the end of the summer, and go home safely," Colonel Teague said.

The Army Corps of Engineers says that nearly 90 percent of the drownings at its lakes could have been prevented if the victim had been wearing a life jacket.