As expected, the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend is sure to be a busy one on Georgia’s lakes and waterways, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division. Conservation Rangers will do their best to ensure the safety of everyone on the water and boaters are strongly encouraged to remain alert and aware at all times.
So far this year in Georgia, there have been 48 boating incidents resulting in 16 injuries and 7 boating incident-related fatalities. Additionally, there have been 22 drownings on public waters. Conservation Rangers have issued 79 boating under the influence citations statewide.
“It is easy to get caught up in the casual spirit of being out on the lake and having a great time – but let us provide a special message to the boat operator,” says Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver. “Don’t allow interest in having a great time deter you from your responsibility of being vigilant for the safety of your passengers and for others on the water. These people are in your hands and we want you to take that seriously.”
Following are some of the many recommended safety rules for boat and PWC operators:
- Designate an operator. Don’t drink and operate a boat. While not illegal to have alcohol on a boat – it is always a wise idea to have a boat operator designated to stay sober. A person age 21 or over with a blood alcohol content of .10 can be charged with Boating Under the Influence.
- Take a boating safety course. To take a boating safety course, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com .
- Wear your life jacket. Recommended for all boaters. Children under 10 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat.
- Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment. Check on the capacity plate for the maximum weight or the maximum number of people the boat can safely carry.
- Use navigation lights at ALL times when on the water at night. Check lights before it gets dark.
- Watch your distance and speed. The 100-foot law applies to ALL size vessels and prohibits operation at speeds greater than idle speed within 100 feet of any vessel, unless overtaking or meeting another vessel in compliance with the rules of the road.
PWC operators should also be aware of these additional safety rules:
- Do NOT jump the wake of another boat.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and make sure you stay well clear of other vessels.
- Know Georgia’s age requirements for PWC operation.
- Make sure everyone who operates your PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. As the owner, you could be held responsible.
For more information on boating safety, visit www.goboatgeorgia.com or call a DNR Law Enforcement office: Northwest Georgia (770) 769-9680; Northeast Georgia (770) 535-5499; Central East Georgia (706) 595-4211; Central West Georgia (478) 751-6415; Southeast Georgia (912) 685-2145; Southwest Georgia (229) 430-4252; Coastal Georgia (912) 264-7237.