It’s not a new message, but one that people need to hear every time they visit area lakes and rivers.

Last week, during a special press conference at the Grand River Dam Authority Engineering and Technology Center (ETC) in Tulsa, the GRDA Police Department continued to stress the importance of proper life jacket use.

Because it has already been a difficult summer on GRDA’s waters in terms of water-related deaths, officers have a heightened level of concern and took this opportunity to again share some important tips that all lake and river visitors need to keep in mind.

According to GRDA Assistant General Manager/Chief of Law Enforcement and Lake Operations Brian Edwards, the most important message of all continues to be “Wear it.”

“It’s not a matter of if you’re going to fall into the water, it’s a matter of when,” said Edwards about those participating in activities on the water, “and you have to be prepared for that.”

Unfortunately, when boating accidents or other incidents put people into deep or swift moving water quickly, there is very little time to reach for a stowed life jacket or to properly fasten one that they might have been wearing loosely, added Edwards.

And in those moments, if panic does set in, the situation can become even worse.

Fortunately, there are plenty of different life jacket options and styles available today and gone are the days of the bulky, hot jackets that are difficult to wear, especially in summer weather.

Edwards encouraged the public to do their research, find a jacket that meets their needs (and that fits properly) and wear it anytime they visit the water.

And while the law requires all children (age 12 and under) to wear a life jacket at all times when the boat they are in is 26 feet or smaller, it’s just good idea for everyone to wear their jackets at all times.

“It takes just a moment for a tragedy to occur on the water, but it also just takes a one moment to prevent a tragedy by putting on your life jacket,” said Edwards.

GRDA Life Jacket awareness