As summer recreation season hits its peak, area lakes are sure to remain busy, and we urge all those who plan to go out on the water to use extreme caution.
Higher traffic levels on area lakes increase the risks involved with boating, and everyone on the water should be familiar with all safety guidelines and follow them to the letter.
And don’t forget — a little courtesy can go a long way toward making area lakes safer and more enjoyable to visit, so everyone on board should know the rules of the road.
This season presents additional safety considerations. Ongoing drought conditions have left many reservoirs below their normal levels and increased risks for boaters. Rocks or logs that were once safely out of reach may now lurk just inches below the surface.
Boaters are not the only ones who need to be reminded of safety guidelines, however, and we encourage lake visitors to be careful when anywhere near the water.
Those low lake levels we mentioned could mean that some areas that were once safe for wading or swimming may now pose possible threats.
Our lakes are not like backyard swimming pools, with known depths and calm conditions, and some of the hazards that lie beneath the surface of the water may not be easy or even possible to see from the safety of the shoreline.
No one should ever be allowed to enter the water alone, and it’s also a good idea to make sure family members and friends have safety gear such as floats and life lines handy just in case they are needed.
We certainly don’t want to put anyone else at risk because we overestimated our abilities or allowed an overinflated ego to leave us stranded far from shore.
Let’s face it — most of us really have no accurate idea of how far we can swim, especially under less-than-ideal conditions. That’s why a life jacket is a good idea for anyone who is going near the water.
We’ve known some adults who thought that life jackets were just for youngsters and refused to use them, but we should never allow pride to put us or someone else at risk. Even experienced swimmers can have trouble in open water, especially if the wind is high, and it’s easy to misjudge distance or our ability to reach a certain point without tiring.
Our North Texas lakes and their many public park areas provide outstanding recreational opportunities, and we encourage families to take advantage of them. But we also remind them to do so responsibly.
If you plan on going to an area lake this weekend or later this summer, remember that safety comes first.
Keep your eyes and ears open and practice the buddy system — you never know when you may need a helping hand.