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      Sheriff's department looking to bust kids being safe on the water

      Living in northern Michigan means being surrounded by many different bodies of water. Which is why the Grand Traverse County Sheriffâ??s Department has started a new program to help create good water safety habits early on in a childâ??s life.

      The marine division patrols many different lakes in the county, and this summer theyâ??ve got something extra on their radar; kids who are practicing safe boating and water skills.

      â??Weâ??re looking for life jackets that are of the right size for the child,â?? said Adam Reister, Supervisor of the Grand Traverse County Sheriffâ??s Department Marine Division. â??And theyâ??re wearing them when theyâ??re on the boats. We are also looking for safe boating activity.â??

      When the marine division catches kids who are practicing these kinds of safe water skills, they reward them with a coupon for a free ice cream cone at Wares Bros. ice cream stores.

      â??Weâ??re all about giving to the community and obviously safety is important with kids and so we were really excited to be able to do that with the sheriffâ??s department,â?? said Melanie Porter, owner of Wares Bros.

      According to state law, children under the age of six are required to wear a United States Coast Guard approved Type I or Type II life vest when they are out on a boat.

      The Type I and Type II life vests include an extra pillow that sits behind the childâ??s head. If a child were to fall overboard face first, the extra pillow would help to turn him or her right side up.

      For more information on Michigan boating laws and responsibilities, click here.

      But the sheriffâ??s department isnâ??t just awarding kids under the age of six. If they find older kids who are also on a boat or in the water that are either wearing a life jacket or behaving safely, they too get one of the coupons.

      â??I cannot remember a drowning that Iâ??ve been involved with where a life jacket was available or involved,â?? said Reister. â??The cause has been because there was not a life jacket on the person or available.â??

      Reister says theyâ??ve had a great response from families about the new program. He says theyâ??ll be handing out the cards for the remainder of the summer, and that they plan to continue the program for future summers.

      The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department got the idea from some counties down state, and says they hope it catches on to even more counties in northern Michigan.

      â??We usually do the right stuff but usually people wouldnâ??t like give you something for doing the right thing,â?? said Connor Demelo who is 11-years-old.

      â??I think itâ??s pretty cool because most kids like ice cream and if they see their friend wearing a life jacket and getting a free ice cream maybe theyâ??ll start wearing their life jacket,â?? said Mitchell Demelo.

      Peninsula Business Forms printed and donated the cards for the program.

      Make sure you tune in to 7&4 News at 6 p.m. for the full story.