State park rangers urge safety to visitors as they prepare for a busy Memorial Day at Millerton Lake

FRESNO COUNTY (KFSN) -- State park rangers are preparing for what they consider the busiest holiday of the year at Millerton Lake.

Edward Smith has been visiting Millerton Lake for more than 60 years. He's getting his fishing in ahead of Memorial Day weekend when hundreds of boaters and swimmers are expected to dive in.

Other than Doris, his wife of 60 years, there are items Smith makes sure to always have on board.

"I always have life jackets and fire extinguishers."

He may never have to use them but they bring him peace of mind

"If you had an engine fire you have some way to put it out," said Smith.

"We're hoping for a safe boating season, and a safe all-around season, when we talk about visitors and what they come out here to do," said Mark Deleon, State Park Ranger.

According to California's Division of Boating and Waterways, in 2015 alone more than 500 boating accidents and 49 fatalities were reported statewide. The majority caused by inexperience and not paying attention.

"Being an operator on a vessel it takes some time to get used to," said Deleon.

For boaters with the need for speed, rangers said when in doubt, throttle down. A move that could save your life.

State park rangers are expecting hundreds to hit the water this Memorial Day weekend, but it's not just boaters that they're urging to use caution. Less than two months after a 19-year-old drowned in Millerton Lake, rangers are reminding visitors of the free safety resources available.

"When you're open water swimming you're taking a risk. So we ask that you stay close to a lifeguard and to the shoreline," said Deleon.

Each lifeguard tower is staffed and equipped with life vests for children and adults who can't swim. The life vest loan program has expanded thanks to support from the division of boating and waterways.

Deleon said,"When in doubt, put a life vest on. It's very easy to do."
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