Friday, August 21, 2009

Lake Safety

Staying safe at the lake

Lewisville Lake is one of the defining features of the greater Lewisville area. It is a valued recreation destination for residents and visitors alike.
But Lewisville Lake, along with all other bodies of water across the state, can be dangerous when lake patrons do not exercise caution. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 444 people died on Texas lakes from 1999-2004, with 110 lakes experiencing at least one fatality. At Lewisville Lake, 17 people have died since 2004, the third most in the state behind Lake Travis and Lake Conroe.

Across the state, males between the ages of 15-24 made up the largest demographic of fatalities, accounting for 28 percent of deaths. Most (87 percent) of the fatalities were a result of drowning. Drowning usually occurs quickly and silently.

Here are some swimming safety tips to help ensure safety in the water:
• Always swim with someone else, never alone
• Know your swimming limits and stay within them
• Keep an eye on weaker swimmers
• Alcohol and swimming do not mix
• Swim in supervised areas only
• Do not chew gum or eat while swimming
• Obey “No Diving” signs
• Always enter the water feet first
• Do not swim in unfamiliar parts of the lake
• Watch for the dangerous “too’s”: too tired, too cold, too far from safety, too much sun, too much strenuous activity

Thirty-two percent of lake deaths involve watercraft. Operators of vessels need to make sure their boat is in top operating condition and has necessary safety equipment. Boating and alcohol do not mix, and operating a watercraft while intoxicated is illegal. All personal floatation devices must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition, readily accessible and of the appropriate size for the intended user.

Safety equipment that should be on any vessel includes:
• Personal floatation device (children under 13 in motorboats under 26 feet are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while the vessel is underway)
• Type IV throwable PFD (required for vessels 16 feet and longer)
• Fire extinguisher
• On-board whistle or horn and a bell (required for vessels 39.4 feet or longer)
• Bright light, lantern or flashlight

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