After the tragic houseboat accident that killed a 4-year-old Central Texas girl and severed the legs of her father who attempted to rescue her, Austin police are urging lake-goers to practice to prepare for dangers on the lakes.
Jeff Sumner, a lake patrol officer with Austin Police, says it's why monitoring those in the water is crucial.
"Now, things are moving downstream, victims may be floating, floating away, sinking -- it becomes much more challenging," Sumner said.
Although each officer is CPR certified and attended Navy rescue swim school, accidents can happen. Officer Sumner said some of the requirements boaters and jet skiers must have are a life vest and a fire extinguisher.
“Not because your jet ski might be on fire but somebody else,” he said.
A sound device like a whistle or bell for distress calls is also needed.
"You need to make sure you know where these things are, like whistle in case you come off the jet ski; that's a way for you to notify vessels that are coming near you that might be in the water,” Officer Sumner said.
And for Lake Austin swimmers, you're only allowed to swim within 50 feet from the shoreline.
“Stay close to the shore so boaters may not mistake you for something else or not see you,” Officer Sumner said.
Austin Police say to eliminate distractions, avoid drinking alcohol, pay attention to your surroundings, consider changing weather conditions that may bring in extra hidden debris, and educate yourself on the lake layout as well.
Lighter-colored water is typically more shallow, the changes in color can be an indicator for changes in water depth.
Texas Parks and Wildlife offers free boating classes. State law requires anyone under the age of 18 to take a class before operating a boat.
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