Safe Kids Tulsa, law enforcement encourage Tulsans to stay safe during Memorial Day weekend

SPERRY, Okla. — With beautiful weather in the forecast this Memorial Day weekend, many families plan to head to area lakes to enjoy the water, but doing so safely is key.

FOX23 headed to CrossTimbers Marina in Sperry to learn more about making sure the unofficial start of summer kicks off safely.

Before heading out to Skiatook Lake, we had a chance to talk with local law enforcement agencies about staying safe in the water and on the roads during what they call the “100 deadliest days of summer” from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

According to Safe Kids Tulsa, more children and teens drown in open water than in pools.

We learned firsthand about what steps adults and children can take to enjoy the water safely this weekend.

Friday afternoon we stepped aboard a 21-foot StarCraft with Hank Spencer, the GM of Cross Timbers Marina in Sperry to learn more about the conditions on Skiatook Lake.

Spencer said despite the lake being about six feet higher, they have not observed any major debris on the lake, so they feel it’s a good safe weekend for boating.

While Mother Nature is cooperating, adults also have an important role to play when it comes to keeping kids safe on the water.

In Oklahoma children ages 12-years-old and under are required by state law to wear a life jacket anytime they’re on a boat 26 feet or smaller on a lake.

“Not only on your boat,” Spencer said, “but if you’re visiting the docks it’s great to have your kids life jacketed up on the docks, I mean you could fall in the water at any point.”

Spencer says it’s also important, when you’re out on the lake, that will be packed with boaters this weekend, to always be aware of your surroundings.

“You can take a wave over the nose of the boat,” he said. “Another boat hits you or something like that, so or just somebody jumping off the back of the boat and all of a sudden you don’t know where they’re at so that’s where that life jacket comes into play.”

He also advises parents to have their kids take swim lessons so they know how to swim.

Kimberly Molini and her husband couldn’t wait to hit the water Friday afternoon with their teenage granddaughter and her friends in tow.

“The sunshine, the cold water, friends, our kids, family time,” she said.

While the kids are older, the lifejackets are at the ready:

“Yes, we have all of our life jackets piled up here and everybody puts one on when they get in the water.”

For those ages 12 and under, who are required to wear them, it’s all about the fit according to Major Tyler Brown with the Grand River Dam Authority Police Department, lifejackets need to be on children and secured tightly.

He also advised adults to wear life jackets, which are now available in styles that allow for better ventilation, like the horseshoe collar life vest one especially when someone is operating a vessel or in a body of water that is moving.

Lake rules also require all boats to carry life jackets for every person on board. And it’s important to have a designated driver of the boat. OHP will be out patrolling Skiatook Lake this weekend.

Those taking to the roads this holiday weekend may notice more officers on patrol in an effort to prevent crashes; OHP Trooper Russell Callicoat said having a plan is crucial.

“When you go out and about and you’re going to go to an event or a party make sure you know what you’re going to do before, during and after, make sure you have a way to get home, a safe way to get home,” he explained.

Callicoat said there will be DUI Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols out this weekend.

“We’re going to be setting up a DUI checkpoint, to where we’re going to try to get people going and coming from locations [where] they’ve been drinking and driving,” he said.

Callicoat said they will also have Saturation Patrols which is basically troopers on general patrol looking for intoxicated drivers all throughout the state.

He added that they will also have extra troopers out on overtime shifts for seatbelt enforcement.

According to OHP, last Memorial Day weekend, OHP responded to 571 crash and 7 percent were alcohol related.