Memorial Day Weekend: Be careful out there
Memorial Day Weekend 2011 is upon us. It’s the unofficial opening to summer (and the time when it’s supposedly OK to wear white shoes). Memorial Day also has a level of seriousness in that it’s the day we honor our fallen heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country’s freedom and safety. We also use this day to honor the loved ones who have passed on.
With all the celebrating and honoring, it’s important to stay safe.
On the water
Thousands of people could be headed to Arkansas’ lakes, rivers and streams this weekend … but they need to keep in mind that with all the rain that we’ve had the last two months, danger could be lurking.
The Army Corps of Engineers is reminding boaters a small craft advisory remains in effect for the Arkansas River in Arkansas and will remain in effect beyond the Memorial Day Weekend.
Flows on the river are well above safe levels for pleasure boats. Advisories are issued when flows exceed 70,000 cubic feet per second. Currents become swifter and stronger, and large debris is carried downstream.
Nine lakes in the Little Rock District of the Corp are high because of spring flooding. These include Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals, Norfork, Greers Ferry, Clearwater, Blue Mountain, Nimrod and Dierks. High lake levels can make boating more hazardous. Officials advise boaters and anglers to prepare for these conditions and use extra caution.
“When you are on a lake, no matter how high the water, be sure to wear a life jacket. You should also remember to use the boat’s kill switch and slow down to watch for submerged debris,” according to a press release from the Corp. “Use caution when launching because high water can make ramps tricky. Be patient if others take a little longer than normal. When boating near the shore or in coves, go slow to avoid underwater obstacles such as signposts, picnic tables, trees, stumps and other obstructions that are normally on dry ground.”
For any lake you visit, whether it is at normal levels or not, the Corp offers the following additional swimming and boating tips:
* Your best defense is to learn to swim.
* Never swim alone.
* Never rely on toys like inner tubes or water wings.
* When in doubt, wear a life jacket.
* Never dive into lakes and rivers from cliffs or ledges.
* Lakes are big; don’t overestimate your swimming skills.
* Swim only in designated areas.
* Watch your children — have a “Designated Child Watcher.”
* Wear a life jacket.
* Check your tow vehicle, trailer and boat.
* Check all safety equipment.
* File a float plan with a friend.
* Check the weather before launching.
* Don’t swim for a boat that is drifting away; get another boater to retrieve it.
* Take a safe boating course.
* Post a sharp lookout and add even more care at night.
On the road
High gas prices are keeping some people off the roads, but not many it seems. Looking to find out how much it will cost to fill the tank wherever you’re going? Use the resources at AAA to find out.
The Arkansas State Police will be continuing its efforts in the ClickIt or Ticket program, which means it’s time to buckle up if you don’t already.
This should go without saying, but drinking and driving and drinking and boating are not only illegal, but they are deadly.
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.