Tips for Safe Boating Memorial Day Weekend

With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department offers safe boating tips for lake lovers.


The upcoming holiday marks the traditional start of the summer boating season on Lakes Grand and Hudson, but will also be one of the busiest weekends for boating.

GRDA took the opportunity to remind Oklahoma residents of “Boat Safe, Boat Smart and Boat Sober” this weekend and throughout the summer.

“The long bank holiday weekend is always a great time to visit the Grand or Hudson Lakes,” said GRDA corporate spokesman Justin Alberty. “But as everyone prepares for time on the water, we want to remind them to ride safe, ride smart, be sober and keep an eye out for other boaters as we anticipate large crowds.”

Alberty added that the GRDA is also working with the National Safe Boating Council to recognize May 20-26 as National Safe Boating Week. The week marks the annual launch of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort encouraging boaters to act responsibly to get the most out of their boating adventure.

Safe and responsible boating always begins with proper life jacket use. According to United States Coast Guard statistics, drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of five fatal accidents involving recreational boats in 2021, and 83% of those drowned were not wearing life jackets.

Before hitting the water Memorial Day weekend and summer, keep these GRDA tips in mind:

  • Buy your personal life jacket. One size doesn’t fit all.
  • Look at the label. It contains information on weight, size and proper use.
  • Try it on to check fit. Once the straps and buckles are in place, they shouldn’t ride over your head or fall down over your ears.
  • Teach your child how to put on their life jacket themselves.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child – it shouldn’t be something they ‘grow into’. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as prescribed with straps on.
  • Never use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.
  • Check your life jacket annually for buoyancy and fit and make sure it is still in good condition and free of tears.
  • Wear your life jacket to increase your chances of surviving an accident and set a good example for others.

Smart boating, on the other hand, occurs when boaters are familiar with the vessel they are operating and the area they are visiting on the water. With that in mind, GRDA also offers the following smart boating tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with the water and the environment you will be sailing on.
  • Be on the lookout while driving.
  • Be sure to turn off your engines when people are in the water near your boat.
  • Be sure to observe the nautical “traffic rules”.
  • Be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.
  • Ensure a balanced load and a trim boat.
  • DO NOT overload your boat.
  • DO NOT ride on the gunwale, bow, seat backs or other places not intended for seating.
  • Do you have a float plan. Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Finally, the GRDA police stress the importance of being sober when sailing.

According to US Coast Guard statistics, alcohol consumption is responsible for one-third of all fatal accidents on recreational boats. Alcohol consumption can impair a boater’s judgement, vision, balance and coordination. These impairments then increase the likelihood of accidents for both passengers and operators. USCG data shows that among alcohol-related boating fatalities, more than half of the victims capsized their boat and/or fell overboard.

If you have an emergency and need immediate assistance while on the water, GRDA Police recommend that you call 911. The department’s non-emergency number is (918) 256 0911.

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