Lake law enforcement officials ready for holiday weekend
KALISPELL, Mont. - It's one of the busiest times of the year for lakes in Montana. The Fourth of July holiday sees families and friends going out on the water for a good time.
Marine Enforcement Supervisor Glenn Miller says it can also be a very dangerous time.
Thursday we headed out on Flathead Lake with Miller as he was patrolling and doing boat safety inspection checks.
He told us the Lake County Sheriff's Office, along with other law enforcement, will be on high alert.
They'll be looking for a lot of things, but one of the biggest will be boating and drinking alcohol, which Miller says can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving a car.
"It can be as dangerous, for one, because when you're out on the boat, the sun's beating on you, you're dehydrated and the alcohol takes a quicker effect on you. Having one or two beers is like having four or five, when you're dehydrated," said Miller.
Miller tells us that life jackets are very important to remember while out of the water as well. That's simply because they can save lives. But it's something he says most people don't think about.
"We have a lot of drowning every year, and out of those drownings they say 83 percent of them are preventable by wearing a life jacket, a simple life jacket," Miller said.
Miller hopes to see people enjoying the lake responsibly this year, but says there will be plenty of law enforcement patrolling the lakes over the holiday weekend.
"We're all out here to have fun. It's actually a little lake, for a lot of people that come for Fourth of July, especially when everyone's cramming around for the fireworks, so just be courteous to others and be patient and we'll get through the holidays pretty good," said Miller.
Miller says it's important to designate a boat driver if you're out on the water drinking during the holiday, just the same as if you were driving a vehicle.