“We understand the urge to celebrate during the holidays. But, do not let the excitement of being out on the water deter you from your responsibility to your passengers and others on the water,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver in a DNR press release. “Your knowledge of boating rules and regulations is critical to ensure that everyone comes home safely at the end of the day.”
Focusing on new and old boating regulations, rangers hope boaters will keep all safety precautions in mind as well as those specific to the Fourth of July. Conservation Ranger Zack Hardy emphasizes capacity limits, life jacket requirements and navigational lights.
“Do not overload your vessel past the capacity limit,” Hardy said. “This is important any time, but especially this week with fireworks going on. A lot of people will want to overload the boats getting people out there to watch fireworks on the lake. Be sure there’s a life jacket for everybody on board and be sure your navigational lights work.”
With large crowds on the water after dark, certain dangers increase and with relatively narrow channels on Allatoona, Hardy hopes to see everyone using proper navigational lights if the weather allows for fireworks.
“At night after the fireworks are go off and everyone starts leaving, a lot of people forget to turn their lights on or they don’t even know if they work or not. So just be cautious and be sure they work before you go out,” Hardy said. “You get hundreds of boats leaving one area at one time, if you don’t have lights on they won’t see you. This lake is narrow as it is, which means boats can be right up on top of each other and lights can save your life, keeping others from running over you.”
Georgia DNR provides the following tips for a safe holiday on the water:
• Designate an operator — Do not drink and operate a boat. Georgia law has changed to move the blood alcohol content level to 0.08 to match Georgia driving law.
• Take a boating safety course — Visit www.goboatgeorgia.com/boating/education for course listings.
• Wear a life jacket — Children younger than 13 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving vessel, but it is recommended for everyone to wear a life jacket.
• Don’t overload your boat with people or equipment — Check 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.
Personal water craft operators also should 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 a PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. Owners can be held responsible.
For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/boating.