Park rangers giving special attention to boat safety; weekend boaters can expect increased checks

MANNFORD -- If it's the Fourth of July weekend, then hitting the open waters on one of the state's many lakes might be on your list.

Making sure your boat meets the proper safety requirements is also on the list of area park rangers.

Park rangers, like Eric Bonnell on Keystone Lake, are checking for a few specific things.

He wants to make sure you have life jackets for everyone on board, a working fire extinguisher, some kind of whistle or horn in the event that you're in trouble or get stranded, working navigational lights and the title and registration for your boat.

Nationwide, 25 percent of boating accidents and injuries occur during the month of July.
And here in Oklahoma, 13 percent of boating deaths happen during this month, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

That's why boaters like Mike Hudson say you have to be aware of your surroundings when you're out on the water.

"Have fun, but also watch out," Hudson said. "Pay attention. Just don't worry about where you're going. Look out for the other people. You know, there's a lot of boat crafts out here and jet skis and everything else, people fishing. So you got to be really on your toes and pay attention."

Now if you don't meet the safety checks you could face a citation, but the park rangers tell me they don't want to go that route and will do what they can to make sure you can get out on the water.

Park rangers are going to check as many boats as possible and said they don't want to have to issue any citations and will work with boat owners as best they can.

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