Genesee County sheriff stepping up lake patrols

Around the Independence Day holiday last year, a Michigan man drowned in Lake Fenton. The sheriff's office says that death is one too many and that's why they want you to take extra precautions when hitting the waterways this upcoming holiday weekend.

Safety is the first priority of the Genesee County Sheriffâ??s marine division.

â??What we want to do is make sure everyone is out there, having a good time but want them to also understand that water is unforgiving,â?? says Genesee County undersheriff Chris Swanson.

Deputies are out in full force on the county's lakes, making sure you're judgement isn't impaired.

â??Alcohol and speed---t's not illegal to drink on a boat,â?? says Swanson. â??It's illegal to drink and drive and be drunk on a boat,â?? he adds.

â??Itâ??s great if somebody wants to have a beer while out on the water but that person should not be behind the wheel of a boat,â?? says Beth Booher.

The Booher family of Holly is glad to see the boats with the black and gold emblems.

â??The one thing I do worry about is people who are drinking and boating---driving their boats around (be)cause I know they like to have a good time but Iâ??m always the designated driver and I hope everyone else has one,â?? says Booher.

Safety on the lake goes beyond drinking and boating.

â??If you get knocked out of your boat and you're not wearing a life jacket, bad things can happen,â?? says Swanson.

What you have on board can make all the difference.

â??Do a gear check before you go out. Anchors, lines, life jackets, flares, something to make noise. If your battery dies on the boat, you need a whistle or some kind of noise maker to alert someone,â?? says Nick Grafton who works at Skipper Buds Marina on Lake Fenton.

â??Have fun but use caution and be aware of your surroundings,â?? says Swanson.

If you need help while you're out on the water, you can always call 911. The sheriff's office also says feel free to flag down one of their boats at anytime.