Park rangers hoping for safe Labor Day Weekend offer safety tips
by Adam Shear
HARKER HEIGHTS - It is Labor Day Weekend and many Central Texas families are heading to the lake, but before they go, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to make sure they are safe.
Park rangers are expecting big crowds at Central Texas lakes and they want to make sure that everyone who plans to get in the water remembers one important item.
"If you're out on the water, remember, life vests float, but you don't," said Randy Cephus, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Texas Public Affairs.
Wearing a life jacket is not the only thing rangers are concerned with, because they also want to make sure people are aware of their surroundings once they get in the water. According to the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, there have been two fatal drownings at Belton and Stillhouse Hollow Lakes, and they hope that number will not increase.
"People commonly come out here and exercise the same kind of caution they would in a neighborhood pool," said Rob Giacomozzi, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger. "That is not up to snuff out [on the lake]. You really got to come up, toe the line, and realize that you have a higher threat level here."
Park rangers understand that many people visiting the parks this weekend will bring alcohol. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would not encourage that, they hope people know to designate a sober driver and drink plenty of water in addition to the alcohol.
"Remember, beer doesn't hydrate you," said Giacomozzi. "You're sitting in the heat, you drink more beer, you end up losing those control parameters, and the next thing you know those reckless behaviors start showing up."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also wants lake-goers to remember that while several people will be at the lake, in the end, everyone is responsible for themselves and the people accompanying them.
"If you are on the water for a particular activity, whether you're tubing, fishing, snorkeling, doesn't matter, be aware of your skill set," said Giacomozzi. "Recognize your limitations, plan for an accident, and don't assume you're not going to have one."
Park rangers say that boating and park laws will be strongly enforced over Labor Day Weekend.
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