Louisiana officials are urging boaters to take safety precautions seriously
CENTRAL LOUISIANA, La. (KALB) - There have been four boating fatalities already in Louisiana in 2022, three of those have been on the Toledo Bend Lake. Now, officials are urging the public to keep safety in mind before going out on the water.
On March 5, two men on a boat in the south end of Toledo Bend were found, one of them had drowned, the other was rescued and airlifted to a hospital for hypothermia treatment. The following weekend on March 12, two men drowned on Toledo Bend.
Although the state is full of experienced boaters, knowing and refreshing boating safety precautions could save lives, should someone encounter an emergency while on the water.
“Undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in boating emergencies and boating incidents is the proper wearing of personal floatation devices,” said Lt. Tim Fox of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Resoundingly more people would live if they were all wearing life jackets when an incident happens.”
In addition to wearing life jackets, ensuring the operator of the boat is not impaired is key to safety.
“The best judgments and the best decisions will be made by people who are thinking clearly, so obviously you want to make sure the drivers are not impaired,” said Lt. Fox.
Pro fisherman and Toledo Bend guide Darold Gleason says making sure you have a float plan that outlines where the boat is launching from, where the boat will be and having someone on land that knows the plan is essential.
RELATED LINK: Darold Gleason’s YouTube Channel
“Let someone close to you know where you will be planning on fishing that day,” said Gleason. “I know us fishermen are secretive so you don’t want to put it on Facebook where you’ll be fishing that day, but at least share it with your wife or a loved one or a close friend. For example, I share my location with my wife on my iPhone, that way if something is to occur or she can’t get ahold of me, she can at least see where I was last. Remember in an emergency situation on the water, minutes count.”
Officials say knowing the weather forecast is imperative before putting the boat in the water.
“Be a weatherman, check the forecast extensively,” said Gleason. “You’re looking for rain, you’re looking for wind velocity, and importantly, on a big lake like Toledo Bend, you’re looking for wind direction.”
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries offers a free boating education course. For more information on that, CLICK HERE.
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