The official start of summer is kicking off in Northwest Arkansas this holiday weekend and families are hitting the water hard, but more fun in the sun also means more water-related accidents .
There were tons of people at beaver lake today enjoying themselves this memorial day weekend and although most folks are just trying to relax on their mini vacation, there are some things outdoor lovers need remember to ensure a safe holiday weekend.
“Schools out now and last year it wasn’t out until after Memorial Day so a lot more kids out here right now, it’s the first good hot weekend, Memorial weekend everybody kind of cuts loose,” said Alan Bland, a Park Ranger at Beaver lake.
Which means outdoors lovers are living a bit more carefree, “We make good memories and it’s just fun,” said Brooke Beyer who was on the lake with her family on Saturday.
Sometimes though, care free can equate to being more careless, and that’s why this week appropriately coincides with boating safety week.
“80 percent of the fatalities are because they’re not wearing a life jacket, if they had been wearing a life jacket they probably would’ve survived,” said Gary Dromi, who was patrolling with the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday.
In fact, out of the 119 people who have drowned on Beaver Lake in the last 50 years, not one of them was wearing a life jacket.
Arkansas law states if you’re under the age of 13 you are required to wear a life jacket.
Other dangers families should be wary of are heat exhaustion and de-hydration, especially while drinking alcohol and of course never booze and boat.
“We encourage people to leave the alcohol at home, have a designated driver if you have to have it out there, but .08 is a boating while intoxicated is now just the same as driving while intoxicated, very stiff penalties,” said Bland.
The coast guard would also like to remind people driving boats, that they aren’t like cars, they don’t have brakes and the forward moving inertia makes it harder to stop.