Staying Afloat

With each day getting hotter and hotter, more Texomans are looking to the water for relief. Anyone enjoying the lakes via boat is encouraged to wear a life jacket. For children under age 13, it's not only encouraged, it's required.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Eddie Hood said, "I would highly recommend that anyone who doesn't know how to swim to wear a life jacket even if they're just wading around the shores. We probably have as many drownings a year from swimmers from the shore as we do off the boat."

Boaters who choose not to wear a life jacket can find themselves in trouble if they go overboard in the middle of a lake. Kelsea Renz, with the Wichita Falls YMCA said, "If you don't know where that shore is and you're fully clothed like you would be on a boat, you're just going to sink straight to the bottom."

Others at risk, are those who just don't know how to swim. Renz said, even for adults, it's never too late to learn. "Anyone can learn how to swim, it's just if hey want to. As long as they're willing to put in the work and the effort, they can easily learn how to swim."

If you find yourself stranded in deep water there are some techniques you can use to stay afloat. Renz said, "Lay on your back, move your hands a little bit, kick your feet a little bit.  That's the easiest way to stay above water and to not go down. It's the easiest way to conserve energy and stay above water for the longest time."

As hard as it may be, the most important thing is to stay calm and not exert all your energy trying to keep your head above water. By laying on your back you can keep just your face out of the water save your energy.

But, if you go into the water face down, unconscious and without a life jacket, no amount of swimming ability or survival technique will help you, that's why wearing a life jacket is so important. Different kinds of life jackets offer varying degrees of protection. 

To sign up for swim lessons at the YMCA or schedule a private session at your home, you can call (940) 761-1000 or visit

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6