BEAVER LAKE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As temperatures start to warm up, more people are looking to get outside. As you’re getting out on your boats, kayaks and other watercrafts, there are safety warnings that you need to be aware of.
Chief Park Ranger Landon Thurman with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said there have been 139 drownings on Beaver Lake in record history. His number one piece of advice is to wear a life jacket.
“Maybe you have a stroke, maybe you have a heart attack while you’re out there. At that point, you lose control of your body. If you have a life jacket on at least that will keep you afloat,” Thurman said.
Tyler Sidani is the manager at the Beaver Lake Outdoor Center. He said it just takes a second for a fun day at the lake to turn into a tragic situation. He wants people to be safe, especially while running a business where he works with people going out on the lake.
Sidani also emphasized the importance of lifejackets, no matter your experience level. This is especially true for the beginning of the season when the water is still cold.
“If you’re a good swimmer, and you’re like, ‘I don’t need a life jacket’, but you’re swimming in cold water, your body is going to wear out quicker. Then, before you know it, you’re too tired and wish you had a life jacket on,” Sidani said.
Sidani added that you should never go out further than you can handle. For example, if you are going to be kayaking, don’t kayak 30 miles out if you can’t kayak 30 miles back.
According to Thurman, you should also be cautious if it’s windy outside and make plans accordingly. A good choice if you’re kayaking or canoeing is to paddle around a cove so that you’re not in wide open waters where there are bigger waves.
A water-related death happened near the Beaver Lake Outdoor Center last summer, and Sidani said seeing an accident like that happen so close to him hit harder.
“When it’s close to home like that, you kind of think about your friends and family when they come out to make sure they’re being safe and taking those measures,” Sidani said.
You should also make a float plan. Thurman said you should have a relative path outlined. You should also let a friend know where you will be so that emergency crews can find you quicker.