Water patrol officers encourage water safety this summer

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- When it comes to lake safety, law enforcement workers in the metro must be glad to see spring is over.

It was an unusually busy season for police, working a high number of drownings on local lakes.

"It's been crazy."

That's how one Missouri Highway Patrol officer described the spring season, in regards to drowning incidents on local lakes. This weekend, police will be active at swimming and boating venues like Blue Springs Lake, making sure safety is a priority.

Making laps around this lake is routine for Cpr. Charles Hoff. Lake safety is part of his duties with the Missouri Highway Patrol. He says unsafe conditions happen when swimmers enter the water without a proper life vest.

"They need something that floats to hold onto," Cpr. Hoff explained.

Cpr. Hoff emphasizes swimming in open water isn't the same as swimming in a pool. He says swimmers often forget about safety precautions because they're busy having a good time.

"In a swimming pool, you can see the bottom in 10-15 feet of water," Cpr. Hoff said. "On a lake, more than three feet down, you can't see more than three feet down if they go underwater."

Police recommendations aren't lost on boaters such as Barry Davis. He and his family say safety matters to them, which is why they wear life vests at all times.

"We have kids in the boat, and we have waverunners out here," Davis said. "We have to make sure they're safe and wearing a lifejacket."

Cindy Copenhaver drives everything -- school buses and a limo for her paycheck and a  21-foot Regal pontoon boat for fun. She and her family are no strangers to the lake, and they avoid the weekend crowds to remain on the safe side.

"Everyone here is good swimmers," Copenhaver said. "They've grown up on the lake and everything. We just make sure we have life preservers ready and drink responsibly."

Cpr. Hoff says it's a no-brainer in his opinion. In 16 years of working for the highway patrol, he doesn't recall ever seeing a swimmer or boater drown while wearing a life vest.

The marina manager at Blue Springs Lake tells fox 4 his lake traffic was somewhat low during the spring. He says that's because of the heavy rain we had during the months of April and May.

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