Officials urge lake goers to stay safe on the water

35,000 people are expected to make their way to Ute Lake Reservoir this weekend for the holiday. But while officials hope everyone enjoys their time off to celebrate, they also encourage lake goers to enjoy the time safely.

â??The number one concern we have is people wearing their flotation devices or life jackets,â?? said Rodney Paris, Ute Lake Park superintendent. â??Anyone 12 or under is required to wear a life jacket whenever a boat is in motion, but we encourage everyone to wear them. Anytime we can prevent a drowning is a plus in our eyes.â??

The CDC estimates that over three hundred people drown a year in boat-related accidents. The most common causes of accidents are collisions on the water, violation of the 150 rule, and alcohol related events.

â??Alcohol is one of our main causes,â?? said Paris. â??Everyoneâ??s inhibitions go to the side and they think they can do things that they canâ??t. A lot of the drowning events we have involve good swimmers that just push their abilities too far.â??

Local shop owner, Gordon Bradley, said that he sees many people coming in and out of his shop before they head to the lake and he cannot stress the importance of life jackets enough.

â??Please, not a boat cushion, not no little orange thingy you wear right around your neck, no ski belts, wear a real nice life jacket that is something thatâ??s going to protect you, keep you fit, where you have the proper space and it will help you at all times,â?? said Bradley. \

He also talked about the common issues of lake goers drinking too much and cautioned anyone headed to the lake to remember that they have the same responsibility on the water that they would when they were driving a vehicle.

â??Itâ??s still a .08, but we encourage people not to drink at all on the water because they have no idea how the water and the sun will affect them,â?? said Paris.