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Staying safe while swimming and boating this Fourth of July

Staying safe on the water this Fourth of July weekend.
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 05:57:57-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Mich. — A lot of people in mid-Michigan are celebrating America's independence on the lake. But a good time can quickly turn into tragedy, as was learned last year when two people drowned in Jackson County.

The Fourth of July weekend is the busiest weekend of the year for Crystal McCormick and the Jackson County Sheriff's Marine Patrol Division.

"The beach is generally very busy. We also have a lot of boaters," said McCormick, a deputy sheriff of the marine patrol.

The division will have a strong presence on the water this summer and holiday and for good reason.

"Unfortunately for us in Jackson County, we usually have about one death a year during not just the 4th of July weekend, but over the course of the summer," said Sheriff Steve Rand of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

It's usually a drowning death.

Last year was unusual as there were two people who drowned on the 4th of July on Big Wolf and Vandercook Lake within an hour of one another. The sheriff said excessive alcohol was a contributing factor to one of the deaths.

"For people that are going to go swimming, if you're in a beach, stay in a designated swim area. There are a lot of abrupt changes in depth after the swim area," McCormick said.

"If you're going to use alcohol then stay away from the boat. Stay away from the swimming until you're sober," Rand said.

Rand added that the other person who drowned wasn't a very strong swimmer, so he recommended people also take proper swimming lessons.

In addition, every boat owner should have proper equipment on board that's required by law, including life vests for every passenger, a fire hydrant, air horn or whistle and throw-able.

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