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story.lead_photo.caption Photo Submitted Headed to the scenic Illinois River for the Memorial Day weekend? The Grand River Dam Authority Police Department remind you to float safe, smart and sober and to ALWAYS wear your life jacket.

Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) Police Department issued tips for travelers headed to the Illinois River for the Memorial Day Weekend.

The organization wants to remind everyone to float safe, smart and sober while also practicing social distancing, according to a press release. GRDA officers will be on the river to promote safe outings and enforce Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's current "Safer At Home" executive order related to covid-19, the release states.

Other safety tips recommended by GRDA include:

• Always wear a life jacket.

• 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 boat alone. Stay within sight of companions.

• Camp only in designated areas.

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

• Never take anything on a float trip that could be lost in the river. Check car keys and other personal effects with the commercial float operator for safe keeping.

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

• Do not float or swim when river levels and flows are higher than normal (brown-colored water with visible debris on the surface) or at flood stage.

GRDA Police also strongly encourage all visitors to wear their life jackets on the water, the press release states. According to the United States Coast Guard, drowning is the cause of three-fourths of all boating fatalities, and among those fatalities 85 percent of the victims were not wearing life jackets, the press release states. GRDA is proud to join with the National Safe Boating Council to recognize May 16 -- 22, as National Safe Boating Week and takes this opportunity to pass these important life jacket tips:

• Buy a personal life jacket.

• Look at the label. It will provide the weight, size and proper use information.

• Try it on to check the fit. Once the straps and buckles are secured, it should not slip over your head or come down above your ears.

• Never use water toys in place of an approved life jacket.

• Check the life jacket annually for flotation and fit. Make sure it is still in good condition, with no rips or tears.

• Finally, wear the life jacket to increase your chance of survival in an accident and to set a good example for others.

For more information, contact the GRDA Scenic River Operations office at 918-456-3251. The office is located at 15971 N. Highway 10 in Tahlequah. For an emergency on the water, please call 911. The GRDA Police Department's non-emergency number is 918-256-0911.

General News on 05/20/2020

Print Headline: GRDA Police offer safety tips

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