East Texas game wardens stress spring boating safety

Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 3:56 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 3, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT
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GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - Traditionally, the boating and recreation season on East Texas waterways doesn’t begin until May, but outstanding weather to start April has got boaters coming out already, and with them, game wardens to ensure boater safety.

That is important because, statistically, boating accidents and fatalities in Texas have been rising over the past years.

The first weekend of April and a beautiful spring day brings boaters, and game wardens are well aware of it.

“We will have a presence out on the lakes. We’re going to be checking boats. A lot of these folks out here, this is their first time on the lake,” said Gregg County Game Warden Todd Long.

Boater safety education has become a priority every spring.

“All the more reason to have that life jacket on at all times. Life jackets. It’s a better idea to have them on, but at least have them accessible,” Long said.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, just from January to April 2021, there was a 40-percent increase in boating fatalities from the year before.

During that period there were 613 deaths and more than 2,500 injuries.

Seventy percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.

Seventy-nine percent of fatalities drowned, and 86 percent were not wearing a life jacket.

Game wardens stress that watercraft should have a life-jacket for everyone on board, and a working fire extinguisher.

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