Safety First In WNY Water

May 28, 2012 Updated May 28, 2012 at 8:28 AM EDT

By WKBW Admin

May 28, 2012 Updated May 28, 2012 at 8:28 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WKBW ) Western New York law enforcement are keeping a close watch on close to 90 miles of shorelines as the Memorial Day weekend kicks off the start of the boating season.

Thomas Meredith from the Erie County Sheriff's office says, "The calls can vary to just a vessel in distress, to just the basic vessel inspection."

Last year the unit conducted 20 search and rescues, and issued 88 citations. The strong presence on the waterways is to educate boaters that everyone has to have a safe season.

Deputy Michael Okal notes, "We want everyone t have a good time, but we don't want people to get hurt, and our mission is to go out there and educate them."

Deputies hope that the common sense we live by on land will carry over to the waterways, especially with an influx of boats out on the water.

Sheriff Timothy Howard told Eyewitness News, "We ask that you have a lot of courtesy towards your fellow boaters. If you're out there, use caution, be familiar with your surroundings, and if it is your first time on a boat, I suggest you come with someone who has been on one."

The County Health Commissioner is also urging people to keep water safety in mind, especially when it comes to pools.

Dr. Gale Burstein told us, "Children 4 and under are at most risk of drowning, and boys are more at risk than girls. Let's be sure when children are around the pool that they are attended, and it would be great to make sure kids have swimming lessons, so children know how to swim."

Erie County is expecting a large amount of beach goers with the nice weather.

County owned beaches, like the popular Bennett Beach, are open to the public, but the water is off limits until lifeguards are on duty in mid to late June. The county is also closing off parking and facilities during weekdays until summer employees begin working.