APALACHICOLA, Fla. (WMBB) — With summer tourism season upon us, more locals and visitors are time in the water. It’s also National Water Safety Month, and deputies are encouraging swimmers and boaters to take precautions.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputies have been spending a lot of time on Apalachicola Bay lately, preparing for this summer season.

They upgraded their water rescue assets, trading in their larger boat for three smaller boats that are better suited for rescues.

“This is just another resource the county has to save lives. And we have saved lives,” Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said.

In the last year, they responded to 8 distressed swimmers, 27 distressed boats, 9 boats that sank, and one drowning.

“We had one last year. One is too many and we want to minimize that and if people will be safe on the water and we will be able to do that,” Smith said. “And hopefully, when they do make bad decisions and get caught in a situation they don’t need to be on we can help them and thats what we wanna do.”

Deputies have already utilized the boats to rescue a distressed kayaker Monday.

Smith said if the kayaker hadn’t had his life jacket on it could’ve been a different outcome.

“Fortunately for the kayaker couple a of days ago he had his life jacket on so he was able to float in the water. It took us about 20 minutes to get there which is a pretty good response time,” Smith said.

Deputies said most water rescues are tourists.

Smith emphasized the importance of having flares, whistles, and communication devices.

He also said to make sure you are not overloading your boat.

Smith plans to station the boats in Eastpoint, Apalachicola and Carrabelle to provide faster responses.