Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, and as things heat up, residents of the ‘Twin Lakes’ will be heading outdoors for some summertime fun.
While swimming, fishing, boating and camping are prominent pastimes across the county, locals and visitors alike are urged to exercise caution to keep themselves and others safe while having fun.
Diane L. Stratton, Park Manager at the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Rough River branch, said that when it comes to safety on the water, “the most important thing is wearing your life jacket.”
Stratton stressed that “regardless of whether you know how to swim or not, your life jacket is your best friend.”
Donning a life jacket is a simple safety measure, that Stratton said takes only about 10 seconds, “but that 10 second could save your life”
Another safe swimming idea to remember is that you should always swim with a buddy. This tip stands for both adults and children alike, and children, of course, should additionally be supervised by a responsible grown-up.
Stratton recommended that lake-goers “log a float plan with somebody,” or, in other words, let someone know where you will be and for how long. This way, should an emergency situation occur, someone will know where you are.
This year’s lower water levels also present some unique hazards that swimmers and boaters should watch out for.
The Corps recommends that if you’re not familiar with the waterway that you are on at the particular elevation that it is at, you need to slow down and exercise caution.
Stratton explained that Rough River Lake is 6 1/2 feet lower than its typical summer pool, while Nolin Lake is roughly 4 feet below summer pool.
Lower water levels also mean that those planning to cliff jump or dive off of any other objects need to carefully check the depth and make sure they know what is under the water before they jump, Stratton urged.
With local waterways being shallower than usual, that favorite cliff jumping spot could potentially pose some serious threats.
For those outdoor enthusiasts who will spend time camping, Stratton reminds that fires should always be fully extinguished, particularlywhen things are dry as they are now.
Also, she suggests that campers keep a weather radio with them so they are well aware of potential pop-up thunderstorms, which she says are prevalent at this time of year.
Should such a storm begin brewing while you are at one of the camping areas, Stratton says to remember that the safest place to be is in one of the shower house structures at the park.
Also, those in the state park should feel free to contact a park ranger if they have any questions or in case an emergency occurs.
Keeping these basic recommendations in mind can go a long way to ensuring that your summer excursions are both enjoyable and safe.