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Water safety tips ahead of Memorial Day weekend in Arkansas

After two people drowned over the weekend, officials in Arkansas want to remind everyone on the water to keep safety top of mind and remember to wear a life jacket.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It's that time of year again for Arkansans to get back on the water. Whether that's pools, lakes, or rivers— caution is always the best policy.

Especially since just last weekend two people drowned in Central Arkansas.

The Ouachita River Whitewater Park is a popular swimming spot in Malvern, but after a man drowned there last weekend, officials want to remind everyone to keep safety top of mind. 

"The best thing is to wear your life jacket. That's the main thing that's going to save you," Game and Fish Spokesperson, Keith Stephens said.

He emphasized that wearing a life jacket is his number one tip for anyone going out on the water. 

He also explained that on Saturday, a man drowned in a boating accident on Lake Hamilton. Unfortunately, he wasn't wearing a life jacket. 

According to the Malvern Fire Department, neither was the man who drowned swimming in the Ouachita River. 

"So far this year, we've had five boating fatalities. You know, that's, that's not a good start. Ones too many," Stephens said.

His other tip is that people should not drink and drive. 

"It's easy to get tired when you get out on the lake. You get tired. Your reflexes aren't as good," he said.

The same goes for people on kayaks and paddleboards too. 

Sam Ellis with Rock Town River Outfitters rents out both of those on the Arkansas and Little Maumelle Rivers. He said preparation is key to having a safe and fun time on the water. 

"If you don't know anything about the area you're in go and talk to someone that has been there as a professional and has floated and guided these certain areas, or at least can tell you all the information you know about the area because each waterway is different," Ellis said.

He said giving the water your full attention is the best thing you can do. 

"It is a really nice, relaxing thing to be on the water. And it makes it more relaxing. Knowing that you're wearing the right equipment and know about the area you can enjoy it more," Ellis added.

"There's gonna be a lot of boats out there this weekend, especially with holidays. So, you know, make sure that you take care and watch for the other boaters," Stephens said.

He also said there are about 200,000 registered boats in Arkansas. Game and Fish expects to see most of them out on the water this weekend.

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