As with all warm weather holiday weekends, we caution you to be safe if you are going to enjoy the waters at Lake Lanier. The good news is, up to this point, boaters have taken that call very seriously.
Entering the weekend, boating incidents on the lake were considerably lower than in years past. The Department of Natural Resources credits that in part to the heavy rains we’ve experienced this summer, which have curtailed some lake activity. But DNR officials also credit the constant reminders that have gone out about the state’s BUI laws.
“Perhaps that made people more aware of safety issues before they got to the water,” DNR spokesperson Melissa Cummings said.
With that in mind, we emphasize again to be safe on the lake and to following boating etiquette. With Lake Lanier again expected to be crowded over the next couple of days, it’s even more important to cast a cautious eye, looking out for other folks as well as yourself.
If you are planning to use the lake, keep these safety tips from the DNR in mind:
• Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat. This year, Georgia law changed to move the blood alcohol content level to .08 to match Georgia driving law.
• Take a boating safety course. Visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/education for course listings.
• Wear a life jacket. Children under 13 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving vessel, but it’s recommended for everyone to wear a life jacket.
• 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 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.
Entering this weekend, there have been only 12 reports of what the DNR considers “boating incidents” after reporting a total of 36 last year. We ask that boaters continue taking precautions so that number can stay where it is and to keep the DNR’s statement for the Labor Day holiday in mind.
“As with any holiday weekend, we expect to see an increase in activity on the water and conservation rangers will be on the lookout for any unsafe activity,” Cummings said. “We encourage everyone to obey all laws in order to keep everyone on the water safe.”