TULSA – The Grand River Dam Authority is reminding the public that social distancing guidelines, set forth in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s “Safer At Home” executive order, also apply on the waters of Grand Lake, Lake Hudson, and the Illinois River.

“Public access areas around GRDA’s lakes and along the Illinois River do remain open. We are already experiencing a more active season than normal on our lakes and the river,” said GRDA Chief of Law Enforcement Brian Edwards. “We expect and will enforce the public distancing practices during this time."

As the upcoming lake season approaches, GRDA police officers are prepared to enforce this order as they patrol the waters. Enforcement will include asking owners to maintain distance between individual boats on the water, as well as monitoring docks, boat ramps and shore lines.

“As an Oklahoma state agency and in the interest of public safety, we are prepared to monitor and respond,” said Edwards. “Our desire is that the public continues to cooperate and limit their gatherings, both on the water or the shore. Our first priority is to help educate lake visitors and promote safe outings.”

Wearing a life jacket, using common sense on the water, and abstaining from alcohol while boating are other points the GRDA Police Department stresses for visitors at all times. Additionally, boat and personal water craft operators should inventory required safety equipment before deploying on the water.

"The waters are open and we encourage the public to visit, as long as they are following these current social distancing guidelines,” said GRDA Chief Executive Officer Dan Sullivan. “And always, please boat safe, smart and sober.”

GRDA recommends boaters are informed of the following guidelines and rules for watercraft safety.

Before leaving a dock or boat ramp, know the stability, load capability and handling of the vessel being operated. Remember, every boat is different.

All boats must be equipped with following required safety equipment and the boat operator should be educated on how properly use utilize in the case of an emergency: lights operating and satisfactory, if operating vessel at night; horn or whistle and a bell if the boat is over 26 feet in length; fire extinguishers; flame arrestor; ventilation (blowers); oar; life jackets; anchor; bailing device; and registration.

Items needed on a personal watercraft include: registration; life jacket; kill switch; fire extinguisher; and horn or whistle.

Check the water conditions and know where hazards like sandbars and stump beds are located. Watch for springtime water hazards such as limbs and logs floating in the water. Check the weather conditions when planning the day. Do not get caught on the lake in a storm that could have been avoided.

Ensure a friend or family member is informed of a boater’s destination on the water and an expected return time in case of an emergency on the water.

Do not drink and drive a boat or operate a personal watercraft.

In case of an emergency, the GRDA Police recommends calling 911. If there is no cellphone access, boaters may use the Marine Band 16 channel to radio for help.

Follow these precautions while on the Scenic Rivers:

• Any first time or novice floaters should also pair with an experienced paddler/floater in a raft where there is a lesser chance of capsizing.

• Never swim or float alone. Stay within sight of companions.

• Do not dive into the river from bridges, bluffs, stream banks and trees.

Due to recent high waters, be mindful that the river may contain some debris that presents navigational hazards.

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