Large crowds expected at area lakes, enforcement to be stepped up

Paddle crafts account for increase in Texas fatalities

SAN ANTONIO – As the July Fourth weekend approaches, area lakes will fill up with boats and visitors looking to cool down. With an increase in crowds, also look for an increase in Texas Game Wardens, who are in charge of patrolling the lakes. 

"We're out to do what we do all summer long,” said Texas Game Warden Patrick True. “The message is the same: water safety."

One statistic, however, is being called “alarming” by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Out of the dozen boating-related fatalities this year, almost half have involved kayaks. In 2015, over 40 percent of boating-related fatalities in Texas involved paddle craft. The growing popularity of the pastime may account for the increase in deaths. When using paddle craft, many of the same boating rules used in boating apply.

"When operating one of those vessels, you have to have a life jacket on board,” said True.

Per usual protocol, Texas Game Wardens will have no tolerance for drinking while driving a boat. Life jackets for everyone on board are also a must, and children’s life jackets will be looked at closely to ensure they are not too large for the child.   

"If he or she falls off the boat or falls in, what happens is the child goes down and the life jacket goes up. It’s a very dangerous situation,” True explained. 

Expect random checks, too, to ensure registration of your boat.  In the end, however, the Texas Game Wardens said their message is simple. 

"Have fun and get outdoors," True said.

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