WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. - Water recreation on rivers and lakes is part of Minnesota culture, but law enforcement agencies hope this season's water-related deaths spur boater and swimmers towards safer behavior.
"We're very concerned about it," said Commander John St. Germain, with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol. "Our goal is to have zero deaths."
St. Germain spent most of Friday on White Bear Lake reminding boaters about safe behavior, handing out warnings, and passing out ice cream coupons to children wearing life jackets.
Reminders about speed, alcohol consumption and life preservers come with serious statistics this season. The DNR reports 26 drownings statewide and eight boating fatalities.
"A lot of the people we've stopped have learned through media sources about the water-related deaths this year," says Sgt. Eric Brandt. "People are taking that to heart and following the rules more this year than year's past."
Even for experienced users of rivers and lakes, the message about safety is being heard loud and clear.
"I heard about the drowning," said Sharon Steichen while boating with her young children. "We have our youngest in life jackets and when we swim we'll all wear them."
"It's my duty as a parent to teach them to be safe out here," says Glen Lisowy. "They know the rules."
Officials with the Ramsey County Water Patrol say they are trying to stay as visible as they can on lakes county-wide.
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