Extra patrols on Lake Belews for holiday weekend

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LAKE BELEWS, N.C. — Labor Day represents the end of Summer for most families, and it’s the busiest weekend at Belews lake other than July 4th.

Lenny Bolden and his kids are enjoying every minute of their holiday. “We’re riding tubes, boating, hanging out swimming. We are just lazing around the lake! Lazy weekend for Labor Day.”

Timothy Blakely is spending the holiday weekend on the lake with his girlfriend and her family. Their Saturday on the waves started out a little rough. “We actually ran out of gas in the middle of the lake! We got a tow in, so we’re filling up not. Not gonna make the same mistake again.”

Madison Rescue Squad volunteer Roy Stewart says they get called to a lot of stranded boaters out on the lake. This weekend, though, they are especially on the lookout for people having a little too much fun.

“Everybody’s off for a long weekend, and a lot of people are enjoying alcohol and adult beverages. We discourage that because it has a lot to do with the accidents we run.”

He reminds boaters that operating a boat under the influence of alcohol is just as illegal as operating a road vehicle after drinking too much.

“Unfortunately most of calls are near-drownings. We’ve been fortunate this year and haven’t had any drownings in the lake but have had some in the river.”

Rockingham and Stoke County deputies also beef up lake patrols for the holiday. They are pulling over boats to check for proper life jackets and safety gear.

“Believe it or not,” adds Stewart, “This lake looks calm not, but if we get a good thunderstorm it’ll get stirred up real quick. You’ll think you’re in the ocean.”

Donna Manuel says she always makes sure her children have on life jackets. “No one can even get off the boat to swim without a life jacket on. That’s just a safety rule we have to have every day on the lake.”

Deputies remind boaters that any child under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times on the water. Both children and adults must wear a life jacket while tubing, skiing or jet skiing. They remind everyone to boat smart and play safe.