Drownings in Oklahoma are up more than three times compared to this time last year.
Just this weekend, two people lost their lives on the water. A 30-year-old female lost her life Friday at Keystone Lake while swimming. A 20-year-old man died in Boat Creek.
According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol, weather has allowed for boating season to start early this year. With COVID-19, many Oklahomans are cancelling many vacations and are taking staycations instead.
Trooper Amy Cobalt has spent more than two decades patrolling Oklahoma’s waters. She said this year, drownings have become a major concern and responding hasn’t gotten any easier.
“I do put myself in their families shoes and realize that they just lost a loved one forever,” said Cobalt. “That is just heartbreaking. A lot of our incidents are preventable.”
So far in 2020, OHP has responded to 44 drownings in our state.
Below is the 2020 lake drowning report:
Troopers stress the importance of life jackets, keeping an eye on weather and children, along with how much you’ve had to drink.
Perhaps the most important is education.
“There is just so many factors that go into the incidents that have occurred this year it’s hard to just kind of come up with one theme of why the numbers are higher other than there are just more people out,” said Cobalt.
Whether you’re socially distancing or taking in the sights and sounds, never underestimate the power of Mother Nature.
“People just kind of go under the water and never come back up, it’s very silent,” said Cobalt. “They’re struggling under the water and people don’t realize that because our water isn’t real clear. They’re not yelling for help.”
OHP offers free six-hour boating safety classes that can be done anywhere in the state. Troopers will give lessons to groups of five or more.
To set up a boating safety class, call 918-681-4959.
As a reminder to boaters, by law, you must have your registration papers that come with decal from the tax commission onboard, a life jacket for each person, a type 4 square throwable, fire extinguisher and a sounding device such as a whistle or air horn.
Boating safety classes can also be taken online through Boat-Ed.