Safety Urged On Lakes This Weekend

Friday, May 22nd 2009, 6:04 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

LAKE KEYSTONE, OK -- More than a half-million Oklahomans are expected to travel this weekend more than 50 miles from home.

Many of those travelers are hitting area lakes. But with a record-setting string of days with rain, the lake patrol says boaters need to watch out for hidden hazards.

Brandy Bennett of Cleveland and her family love to come out to Lake Keystone. With the water so high and little ones in the boat, safety is a huge priority.

"Stay away from the shore; stay out in the middle," Bennett said. "Go where we know there is no sand and there are a few big blocks out there you have to watch out for. Just watch our speed and watch for other people."

That's exactly what the Oklahoma Lake Patrol likes to hear from people hitting area lakes over the Memorial Day weekend.

"You can see the cable and the post that is barely sticking up out of the water, normally you can walk all the way around that," said Tony Richardson with the Oklahoma Lake Patrol.

With the lake level at Keystone 14 feet above normal and the water high at most other area lakes, underwater obstacles can be dangerous.

"There's a lot of debris out there," Richardson said. "There are a lot of obstructions near the shoreline that may just be inches under the water."

The lake patrol says boaters should have a lookout watching for hazards, wear life jackets and above all, reduce speed.

"In a boat, there's not a lot to hold you in, and if you hit something under water going at a high rate of speed, generally people are ejected out of the boat into the lake," Richardson said.

Combined the high water, with the high number of people out on the water, troopers say they can't stress safety enough.

"When tragedy occurs, it was never in the plans, and sometimes they go home in a black plastic bag," Richardson said.

While some camping areas and boat ramps are affected because of the high water, there are still some open, including the Prairie View boat ramp next to the new Mannford ramp campground on Keystone Lake.

It is best to call ahead to area lakes if you're planning a weekend outing.

Private marinas also remain open on area lakes.