Expect More Patrols on Lakes this Memorial Day Weekend

Updated: 05/21/2014 7:45 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson

Hennepin County plans to step up water patrols for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Deputy Adam Hernke calls out to 17-year-old John Moe, who is being stopped for a high water violation. He didn't give Moe a ticket -- just a warning. When Hernke discovers there's no throwable personal flotation device on board, things go south.

"I do have to ask you to leave the lake, but I also will be issuing you a citation," Hernke said. 

Moe says being stopped really stinks: "Yes it does, it's something I've always been fearful of."

Hernke patrols 104 named lakes and three major rivers in Hennepin County, and Memorial Day weekend is his first big weekend this year. Lake Minnetonka is tough to patrol because there is so much water, officials say, so safety is a must this weekend.

"Increased traffic equals increased liabilities for boaters," Hernke said. 

This weekend, Lake Minnetonka will be cut into sections, and special citizen deputies will assist regular deputies. Things for them to watch out for are boating while intoxicated, high water violations and safety violations.

"Obviously if something big happens we can go anywhere," he said. 

Hernke says that fortunately no one drowned last summer in Lake Minnetonka, but two boats did burn and sink. Countywide, there were 45 arrests for boating while intoxicated.

Safety reminders for boating:

Boaters should ensure they designate a sober boat operator prior to their day of boating.

Lifejackets are required by law to be worn by children under age 10 when the boat is underway.

Lifejackets are required by law to be readily available for all persons on board.

It is recommended that boaters of ALL AGES wear a lifejacket while boating.

A fire extinguisher and a throwable device are also required on board every boat.

Be aware of boat propellers.  People who are re-entering the boat, have been injured by props.

Safety reminders for swimming: Watch-Wear-Learn

WATCH – your kids

In 70 percent of cases where young children drowned, one or both parents were nearby. Being nearby isn’t enough. Parents must avoid distractions such as using cell phones or talking with other adults.

Parent supervision is needed even when there are lifeguards on duty.

Drowning is typically a silent event and the victim does not splash or yell. As a result, parents need to maintain visual contact with their children who are in the water -- or near the water. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under age five.

WEAR – a life jacket

Weak swimmers or non-swimmers may wear life jackets in lakes, swimming pools, and any body of water.  Adult supervision is still needed.

Do not rely on water wings or other inflatable devices.

LEARN  -- to swim and more

Learn to swim. Kids and adults must know how to swim in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Learn about safety equipment – keep a shepherd’s hook near a pool for rescues. 

Learn about the recommendations for pool drains.  Teach children not to play with drains.

Learn CPR and learn more about water safety.

*Information from the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office