Staying safe on the water this Labor Day weekend

Drinking increases your chances of injury and drowning
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 5:21 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Labor Day weekend is the last big holiday before summer ends, but these holiday weekends are also the biggest time for accidents.

“Everybody seems to go out to the lakes or go out to drink and have a good time. Your response time is going to be a little bit slower, so those folks tend to have more accidents,” Keith Covey, flight nurse paramedic with Aerocare, said.

Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard reported more than 2,500 recreational boating accidents resulting in 357 deaths and 1,225 injuries. They say drinking increases your chance of injury or drowning.

“If you’re consuming alcohol and you fall out of a boat or you’re swimming around and get off somewhere where no one can see you, you could drown,” Covey said.

If you are consuming alcohol while operating a watercraft you can face up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000.

“There is always a risk of running into other watercraft and or people that are swimming,” Covey said.

If you are on the water, you should always have a buddy and know how to swim.

“Even if you can swim and you’re gonna be on water, you need a personal floatation device that fits,” he said.

if your floatation device doesn’t fit and you fall into the water, it can slip off and diving into unknown waters can have life-altering consequences.

“They may never walk again; some of them may have a high enough injury they may not be able to breathe on their own without the use of a ventilator,” Covey said.

Bodies of water can be a good distance from the city, meaning EMS can’t get to you as quickly. That means Aerocare has to come in, and even then, may be too late.

“You have just a few minutes before they become pretty incapacitated,” Covey said.

First responders recommend taking precautions before you head out to the water this weekend. They say the best choice to stay safe is to stay sober.