Lake officials stress importance of wearing life jackets

Kanopolis Reservoir (KSN File Photo)

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CHENEY LAKE, Kansas — Families will be turning to the lake to stay cool with temperatures expected to climb back into the triple digits.

“We’re just coming out here and having a good time doing jet skis and staying in the water,” said Devona McPherson, concerned parent.

Devona McPherson’s 5-year-old son is enjoying a splash at Cheney Lake Sunday afternoon.

McPherson tells KSN News he doesn’t get into the water without a life jacket on.

“I would like my kids to have their life jackets on especially my 5-year-old needs his life jacket on and he knows he needs to have it on at all times,” said McPherson.

The lake may look calm and peaceful, but park rangers at Cheney Lake say think again.

They argue it can be a matter of life or death if you not wearing a life jacket.

There’s been 8 reported drowning deaths since Memorial Day with incidents at Kanopolis Lake, Wellington, Cheney, and most recently at Lake Wilson and a pond at Clay County.

“We suggest if you’re not comfortable swimming, not a confident swimmer than you wear a life jacket,” said Brian Haug, Natural Resource Officer for Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. “Because just one step could take you from shallow water into deep water before you’re expecting it.”

Haug points out it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your surroundings, but also to know what to do if you spot someone struggling in the water.

“Reach out with something other than your hands if you can,” said Haug. “Throw something out to them– a robe or a towel or anything like that to try to pull them back into shallow water or a boat dock or whatever the case is.”

But the officer argues it all comes down to parents setting a good example.

“If the kids see their parents wearing life jackets then they see it’s cool for the parents to wear life jackets,” said Haug. “As they grow up they’ll continue with that tradition and that’s ideally what we want.”

Cheney Lake has a zero tolerance policy regarding life jackets– anyone caught boating with someone 12 or under not wearing one gets a ticket.


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