With temperatures already reaching values we normally don't see until June, more and more of us will want to jump into our pools or head to area lakes and rivers. Before we do, it's important to be prepared and stay safe.
Because Okatibbee Lake is a multi-use lake with swimming, boating, and fishing, it's important when you're swimming at the lake, you are where you are supposed to be.
"Before you go swimming, first of all, you need to make sure you go in a designated swimming area," said Mark Dean, Okatibbee Lake park ranger. "That's an area that roped off, designed, and contoured for swimming, and that would be our swimming beaches here. You wouldn't want to go to any shoreline or just any place along the lake. You want to go to the swimming areas."
If you aren't sure which areas around Okatibbee Lake are designated swimming beaches, just look for the orange buoys.
"We have them all buoyed off. They have orange buoy lines that go from the bank out and back around and they're anchored on the beach area," said Dean. "They have poles that have the depth markers that tell you in the back of that swimming area how deep that area is. And all of our swimming areas are what we could refer to as shallow water swimming areas. They're going to run around the five and a half, six foot depth at the very back of those areas."
The swimming areas at Okatibbee may not be deep, but it is still important to make sure you watch your kids, especially the little ones.
"Small toddlers, you don't have to have that much. They can just step in over their heads," said Dean. "Again, parents, they have to watch their kids at all times when they're out in the water."
Okatibbee Lake officially opens its beaches Memorial Day Weekend.