Summer is making a big return and that means boating at Grand Lake, and so please remember to boat safe, boat smart and boat sober.

That’s the message shared by the GRDA Police Department as thousands of lake visitors head to the waters of Grand and Hudson lakes for the beginning of the busy summer boating season.

Of course, Memorial Day Weekend is a great start to that season and GRDA officers want all those who will be boating, swimming, skiing, tubing, fishing or just cruising to have a safe and memorable experience at the lake.

Those safe outings really start with being prepared. If you plan on being on the boat at any time this summer, here are a few tips to always keep in mind:

  • Check the water conditions before you head out. Know where the hazards, like sandbars or stump beds, are located in the water.
  • Before you ever leave the dock, check the weather conditions. Do not get caught on the lake in a storm you could have avoided.
  • Like an airplane pilot that files a flight plan, you need to file a float plan. Tell someone responsible where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Do not drink and boat! It is a bad idea. Most lake accidents are alcohol related. Do not become a statistic.
  • Finally, if you need assistance on the waters of Grand or Hudson lakes, the GRDA Police recommends you call 911. However, if you are on the boat with no cell phone access, you can use Marine Band 16 to radio for help.

Even as you do these things to prepare for your lake outing, there is also some required safety equipment and other things you need to take along when boating at Grand Lake:

  • Personal flotation devices (PFDs, life jackets) for all passengers on the boat
  • Oars
  • An anchor
  • Bailing devices
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Working lights
  • Horn or whistle
  • Registration

And there are also items required on a personal watercraft, including:

  • Registration
  • Kill switch
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Horn or whistle
  • Life jacket

The importance of life jacket usage cannot be stressed enough.

GRDA Safe Boating Life Jackets

If you get caught wearing your life jacket while boating on Grand Lake or Hudson Lake, you could get a free t-shirt from GRDA.

Statistics from the United States Coast Guard show that drowning was the reported cause of death in almost 75 percent of all boating fatalities in 2012 (most recent statistics). And of those that drowned, 85 percent were not wearing life jackets.

The GRDA Police Department wants to see those percentages drop and will continue to promote life jacket usage this year with its “I Got Caught” campaign.

If a GRDA officer “catches” you wearing your life jacket while boating on Grand or Hudson lakes, they just might reward you with a special “I Got Caught” t-shirt. Wearing a life jacket while boating helps to set a good example for children and certainly increases your chance of survival in an accident.

Here are a few tips on the life jackets from GRDA:

  • Buy your own personal life jacket. One size DOES NOT fit all.
  • Look at the label. It will provide the weight, size and proper use information.
  • Try it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head or come down above your ears.
  • Never use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.
  • Check your life jacket yearly for flotation and fit.
  • Finally, wear your life jacket to increase your chance of survival in an accident and to set a good example for others.

Finally, make sure to get a copy of the 2014-15 GRDA Lake Guide, which you can get at the GRDA Ecosystems & Education Center in Langley plus other Grand & Hudson Lake area businesses, or you can get it HERE or at grda.com.

The Lake Guide is full of information on boating and water safety, and also contains lake rules and regulations, as well as other information on GRDA and its lake operations in Oklahoma.

For more information on the GRDA Police Department or information on how an officer can assist you, contact the department at (918) 256 0911.