|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - July 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Boaters urged to use caution on the lake
Polk County Enterprise
BY MIKE COX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept
This July 4 weekend friends and family will haul their boats into the water and celebrate, but someone else might crash the party – Alex Hurricane Alex is expected to make landfall on Thursday in northern Mexico or South Texas and bring with it rain that could lead to inland flooding during the weekend. With that in mind, in addition to the usual safety tips outlined below it is important to watch the weather reports and plan holiday get-togethers on the boat accordingly. Jeff Parrish, TPWD assistant chief boating law administrator, said that while lakes surrounded by urban development are usually unaffected by inclement weather along the coast, anyone who plans to celebrate near the Texas coast this weekend should monitor the forecast and prepare for the weather. “Just like pilots develop a flight plan, you should develop a float plan,” Parrish said. “Let people know where you’re going and how long you plan to be out so if you don’t come back by a certain time, they know to start looking for you.” In addition to monitoring the forecast, boaters are urged to take the usual precautions when spending time on the water this July 4 weekend, including wearing a personal flotation device and not operating a boat while drinking alcohol. Boat operators must have at least one lifejacket per passenger on board, and children younger than 13 are required to wear lifejackets while on the water. TPWD reports that 90 percent of boating fatality victims who are recovered had not been wearing lifejackets and that wearing a lifejacket increases your chances tenfold of surviving in the water. In 2009, TPWD reported 211 boating accidents and 35 boating- related fatalities as well as 219 incidents of BWI (boating while intoxicated). So far this year, 72 boating accidents and 15 boating-related fatalities have been reported as well as 75 incidents of BWI. Cox is spending the holiday weekend “embedded” with game wardens assigned to search and rescue operations in the wake of Hurricane Alex.