Game wardens ensuring boat safety in area lakes

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As spring-like temperatures are tagging along with Spring Break, many are spending the week outdoors.

Game wardens making sure it is a safe start to boating season, encouraging you to stay aware on the water.

“There’s probably about ten or so lakes, within an hour drive of here. It’s a really nice place to be,” avid fisher, Ray Renfro said. “Some of my desire to have this kayak is for exercise. I can peddle it. I just had a knee replacement about 4 months ago, and so this is a part of my therapy and I’m just loving it.”

Renfro was taking is testing out his new kayak, on Tuesday. Even though it was his first time out on the boat, it certainly was not his first time on the waters. He said one thing he never forgets when setting sail is his life jacket.

“I wear one when I’m by myself, even when I’m in a larger boat, because you never know when you’re going to get tossed out or lose your balance,” Renfro said.

In 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard stated drowning was the reported cause of death of 75 percent of boating fatalities. Eighty-five percent of those were due to not having a life jacket. Now, in the state of Texas, if you are under 13, you must have or have one on board, otherwise, you will be fined.

“We’re allowed to go check people at any particular time, just to do a water safety inspection. We’re really concerned about having enough life jackets on board. A wearable life jacket for each person on board,” District Game Warden, Captain Loudermilk said.

He said area lakes tend to see a lot of drownings.

“Sometimes, we see people at this time of year, if their boat drifts off from the shore, then they’ll try to swim out and go get it, without a life jacket on, and that’s one of the number one drownings that we have happened. We always encourage people to get another boat to go get their boat,” Loudermilk said.

He and his crew will also be making sure registrations are current and drivers are safe.

“We always suggest that the driver not have anything and you have plenty of water. It is not illegal for a person to operate a boat and have an alcoholic beverage but you don’t want to be impaired,” Loudermilk said.

And one thing Renfro said he makes sure of is always letting someone know where he is, especially when he is out on the waters alone.

“You should have a type of radio that you could contact somebody, other than your phone, if your phone didn’t have service. Coast Guard or something like that,” Renfro said.

Boating and fishing registrations are to be renewed every two years, or you will be looking at a hefty fine.

Any questions can be directed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife office.

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