GOLDENS BRIDGE, N.Y. - The Goldens Bridge Fire Department led joint water-rescue training drills last week with the dual purpose of sharpening their skills and raising water safety awareness.

Northern Westchester’s picturesque reservoirs and lakes are popular summer spots for recreational boaters, fishermen and swimmers, said Fire Chief James McManus.

“People sometimes don’t realize their physical limitations or their inability to swim—and that’s when they get into trouble,” McManus said. “A little common sense and knowing your abilities go a long way to practicing good water safety.”

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The drills took place on the Muscoot Reservoir off Route 138 in Goldens Bridge—the same place where the frozen bodies of two New York City fishermen were discovered on New Year’s Day. Joining Goldens Bridge were neighboring departments from Yorktown and Croton Falls.

The three fire departments participated in drills that included deployment of marine equipment and simulated rescues of boaters and swimmers in distress or in need of medical attention.

“These training drills sharpen the skills of firefighters and prepare us for a number of potential water emergency realities, but we also use this opportunity to educate the thousands of recreational boaters that come from Westchester and New York City to fish, swim or just enjoy the sun on the reservoirs and lakes abundant in the northern region of the county,” McManus said.

Whether a weekend fishing excursion in the reservoir or a swim in a lake, McManus offered some safety tips to avoid a day of recreation from turning into a tragedy:

• Know your limitations and abilities. Carelessness and inexperience get you in trouble.

• Avoid overloading your boat with gear and people. Small boats are prone to capsizing.

• Always wear life-saving flotation devices.

• Never consume alcohol while on the water.

• Know your swimming ability. Avoid exhaustion or you may not be able to pull yourself back into the boat.

• Respect the water, even the calmness of lakes and reservoirs.