NEW ORLEANS -- For many, celebrating the Fourth of July entails heading to Lake Ponchartrain.
Some take to the water by boat, while others gather along several beach areas along the Lakefront in New Orleans and Metairie.
But several recent drownings, including one last weekend near the former Seabrook Bridge, have sparked concerns over swimming in the lake.
Wednesday afternoon, folks said they were making sure to keep a close eye on loved ones.
"If we were to see someone who looked they needed help or something, of course we would react," said Anita Rougee, who was enjoying the day with family members from Texas.
Teiana Lloyd said her family swims at the lake often.
"If everybody would just watch their children and watch their people, they wouldn't have trouble," she said.
Lake Ponchartrain is always especially concerning for officials, because, as they put it, conditions -– like wind and surf -- can change in an instant.
Beginning early Wednesday morning, agents with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries launched patrols.
They boarded boats, checking for proper equipment, like life jackets and fire extinguishers, and watching out for impaired operators.
"There are so many different variables that can actually increase the effects of alcohol on the water,” said Sgt. Tim Fox. “The sun glare, the vibration, the motor noise, the wave motion, things of that nature can actually fatigue boaters to the point where, even if they're not intoxicated by alcohol or some sort of narcotics, their ability to operate a vessel safely can be compromised after enough time on the water."
As of late afternoon, agents working areas of the lake in New Orleans said they had only handed out a few warning citations