EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With the unofficial summer closing, the New Mexico State Parks Division expects thousands to visit parks and waterways. Authorities are stressing the use of life jackets as life savers, as eleven people have died while boating since August of last year. Those who died from drowning were not wearing a life jacket, and many were on boats driven by operators who had not taken a boating safety course.

“Wear a life jacket every time you are on the water, regardless of the activity,” said State Parks Boating Safety & Education Program Coordinator Scott Chalmers. “Accidents can happen much too quickly to put on a life jacket. It should be U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the activity, and fit you properly.” The agency explained even strong swimmers have underestimated the force of the water currents. Since August of last year, five people died after entering waterways to swim.

In 2022, 140,000 people visited all 35 New Mexico State Parks. Elephant Butte, Navajo Lake, and Ute Lake were the most popular. Camping reservations can be made here or at the Reserve America website.