Authorities patrolling Lake Texoma in force over 4th of July weekend

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LAKE TEXOMA -- Tens of Thousands of people will be celebrating Independence Day at Lake Texoma this weekend and although lake officials want you to have fun, they want to remind you of some rules and tips that will help keep you and your family safe.

While friends and family are coming together to celebrate the 4th of July, Lake Patrol is out in force.

B.J. Parkey with the Army Corps of Engineers says they are looking for those driving under the influence and making sure boaters have all required necessities onboard.

"That includes a life jacket for everyone on board, including a type four throwable device, which is typically your seat cushion jacket. US Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher that is properly working readily accessible. Whistle or a horn, sounding device and your current boaters registration," Parkey said.

Parkey says children under the age of 13 are required to wear a life jacket while the boat is in motion, but he recommends everyone on board to wear one -- even the strongest of swimmers.

"We want to remind everybody you know, that 90 percent of all drowning victims they never had a life jacket on, and 50 percent of drowning victims alcohol played a factor in their death," Parkey said.

Before hitting the water Parkey says check the area for boat hazards, like sandbars and tree stumps.

"Hazards that are typically covered up with eight feet of water are now exposed," Parkey said.

Fisherman like John Berech knows being familiar with the water is important.

"I do have a trusty old hummingbird here with a GPS and a map and depth finder so yea you got to know your surroundings. Got to know what's out there," Berech said.

A couple other things to remember this holiday weekend, fireworks are not allowed on corps land and operating vehicles off designated roadways is prohibited.

Parke adds that corps campgrounds at Lake Texoma are already 99 percent full. He recommends calling to check if there is space at your favorite camping spot before heading there.