It is typical practice to share boating safety and lifejacket tips in the spring and summer months, during the midst of the busy boating and floating season on Grand River Dam Authority lakes and the Illinois River.
However, ask around and you may find that many folks across the area are convinced that the best boating and floating weather of all takes place on beautiful fall days in Oklahoma, when the fall foliage is just as brilliant as the summer foliage.
If your upcoming weekend (or even Thanksgiving) plans include a trip to the Illinois River, or Grand or Hudson lakes, remember that fall also means shorter days and cooler temperatures.
But, with a little preparation, you can still have an enjoyable trip this time of year. Here are a few safety tips to remember:
· Make sure your boat’s navigational lights are all working properly. Remember, it gets darker sooner this time of year and even if you do not plan to be on the water after dark, you should still be prepared for low light conditions. It is also helpful to carry waterproof flashlights in your boat; they may come in handy when loading and unloading passengers.
· In all seasons, it is important to know the area where you will be boating or floating. However, the shorter fall days can make navigating more difficult. Being familiar with your surroundings will promote a more enjoyable, safer trip.
· Also, file a float plan with someone responsible. Let them know what part of the water you will be on and when you might expect to return.
· While fall remains a popular time to go boating, you should still expect to see less traffic than in the summer months. That is why it is important to carry along a whistle or a cell phone in case of an emergency. There are just fewer water visitors to flag down for help. Remember, for emergencies on the water, call 911. If your boat has a marine band radio, you can also contact GRDA Police on channel 16.
GRDA encourages you to enjoy the beautiful waters of Northeast Oklahoma in all seasons but also keep these safety tips in mind. As always, remember to boat and float safe, smart and sober.
Have a great time out there!