ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) — As Hoosiers head to the lakes to celebrate the Fourth of July, Indiana Conservation Officers and the Steuben County Health Department are asking lake goers to exercise caution.
Independence Day weekend is one of the largest holidays for lake communities like Lake James in Angola. Between the high temperatures expected this weekend, coronavirus concerns, and the usual water hazards, conservation officers and the Steuben County Health Department want people to make their safety a top priority.
Indiana Conservation Officer Sgt. Patrick Heidenreich said it is not unusual to find alcohol on a boat, and it is entirely legal.
“It’s very common on a boat,” said Heidenreich. “Unlike a vehicle, there’s no open container laws on a boat which makes alcohol quite prevalent on boats.”
While there is no law against drinking and boating, Heidenreich said people should treat it like they would if they were drinking on land.
“We’d suggest that you have a designated operator for the boat just like you would have a designated operator in a motor vehicle on the roadway.”
Boaters should stay cautious even if they aren’t drinking, because of how unpredictable it can be out on the water.
“It’s going to be very congested, a lot of boats and there’s no real flow of traffic pattern out here so boats will be going in all directions so you need to be totally aware of your surroundings when you’re out on the water,” said Heidenreich.
Several area fireworks displays have been canceled, so they are expecting to see large crowds for the show at Lake James on Saturday evening. Whether those people are on the water or on the beach, the Steuben County Health Department said they are expecting a lot of those people to be visitors from out-of-town. They are recommending that people try to avoid large gatherings and instead stick with people who they have already been around.
While there are not any gathering restrictions at places like sandbars, the health department does recommend that people keep their masks on and stay on their boat. Heidenreich said they also recommend that people stay hydrated because it is set to be a hot weekend.