MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The new beach at Ramsey Creek Park has made waves for crowd sizes since it opened in May. For the Fourth of July, those crowds are expected to be at their largest since Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day, an estimated 12,000 visitors came through the beach. Sergeant George Brinzey is with Cornelius Police Department Lake Patrol. He says they're prepared for the crowds.
"We just gotta up our staffing levels. We put an extra boat out."
Officers are stressing basic safety precautions, like wearing a life jacket. In all of the drownings in the Charlotte area since May, the victims were not wearing one.
"We just need to understand that things can happen out there on the water that you can't control. If you're wearing a life jacket, you'll be much safer," Brinzey says.
Beach-goers are also putting safety first. There are life jackets set aside at Ramsey Creek Park for visitors who don't have one.
"We've got our life jackets for our kids. So they can go ahead and go swim, and stay safe," said Sameria Alarcon, who brought her children to the beach.
Officers are also being extra vigilant about drunk boating. Brinzey says because of all of the elements on the lake, it can be more deadly to drive a boat while impaired than driving a car impaired.
"You've got things, boats, people in all directions. You have to have a heightened sense of awareness of who's around you, where you are."
Sarah Rochelle went out on her boat with her husband and two kids. She says they won't even bring alcohol on board. She asks other boaters to drive sober, so they don't put families like her own in danger.
"It's just not a smart decision. It's really really not safe. There's so many obstacles when you're boating in general," Rochelle said.
The new beach at Ramsey Creek Park is Mecklenburg County's only public swimming beach access on Lake Norman.