LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Before you head out on the water this 4th of July, Arkansas Game
and Fish Commission (AGFC) has some important tips to keep in mind.
First off, anyone born since 1986 needs to take a boaters' education
class. Anyone not carrying a card proving they have been though one of
these courses will be ticketed, and those tickets are not cheap.
Secondly, AGFC stresses the importance of wearing a life jacket.
"It's mandatory to wear your life jacket if your twelve years old or younger but we try to get the adults to also present a good example for the kids and wear the life jacket because it will save your life," says says Captain Stephanie Weatherington with Arkansas Game and Fish.
In an effort to promote kids wearing life jackets, officers will give
kids a "Sonic Citation" if they see them with their jacket on. This will
entitle them to a free small ice cream cone from Sonic.
Wildlife officers will also be out in force looking for drinking and driving on the water.
"If you're caught boating under the influence, it's the same as a DWI," explains Weatherington. "This weekend all our officers are participating in what's called 'Operation Dry Water.' That's a national effort, from all over the nation, law enforcement agencies are going to be out educating the public on the hazards of drinking and boating."
Statistics show alcohol was a primary factor in 17-percent of boating fatalities in 2012, across the country.
"Drinking and boating is such a deadly combination," she says. "Everybody thinks that drinking and driving on the road is bad, which is it is, but you get in a boat, there's no brakes, there's no lanes to stay in, everybody's going their own direction so it tightens the danger."