Local enforcement urges people to follow safety guidelines while out on the water

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- With Memorial Day weekend kicking off the summer season, employees at Pine Flat Lake, and local law enforcement are urging people to stay safe and follow all safety guidelines.

"Everybody comes up to the lakes and they want to have a good time but real quickly, a good time can go bad if they don't have the proper equipment," says Sgt. Jeff Stricker with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

Proper safety equipment includes a throwable life preserver, sound signaling device, a fire extinguisher and life vests for everyone on board.

Sgt. Stricker says life vests must fit properly and should be worn in the water.

"If you don't know how to swim, stay out of the water," he said. "Even if you are a good swimmer in a swimming pool, swimming in a lake or moving water in the river is completely different."

Last year, the boating enforcement unit wrote around 50 citations and did around 1,400 boat inspections.

Deputy Kayla Irwin focuses on educating boaters but when it comes to children's safety, there are no chances given.

"Anybody 12 and under that doesn't have a life vest on the boat, that is a zero-tolerance because if anything were to happen, that is on the parents," says Deputy Irwin.

Local Christian Reyna comes out to the lake to have fun but makes safety the priority.

"Sometimes people get a little too drunk, so you want to have a designated driver, someone that designates everything in general," says Christian.

Similar to recent years, lakes and rivers are still facing low water levels due to severe drought, causing rocks, trees and other hazards to be exposed.

"That causes pretty significant issues with boat strikes and boating accidents when they don't have a proper lookout and they run into some of these rocks," explains Sergeant Stricker.

People on boats and jet skis should also drive in the correct direction while out on the water.

Boat drivers should also carry their boater ID with them. To apply for one, click here.
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