DNR OFFICIALS CAUTION SAFETY ON THE WATER OVER MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
This has been the busiest Memorial Day holiday weekend on record, according to DNR Law Enforcement.
That’s why the Georgia Department of Natural Resources wants everyone to remember a few simple safety measures to ensure you and your loved ones have a great and safe time on the water today and through the summer months.
DNR Law Enforcement officer Craig Fulghum tells WLHR News, they have issued one BUI so far on Lake Hartwell and two on Lake Russell. 11 have been handed out on Lake Lanier this weekend.
“Biggest crowds I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said.
Fulghum said he and fellow DNR officers will be out on the water this weekend checking boating registrations and looking for impaired boaters.
“The number one issue and danger to boaters on our waterways in Georgia are individuals who are out there boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” he said. “And as officers and game wardens in the State, our job is to get them off the water as quickly as we can so that everybody who is trying to do it right can enjoy their day.”
Georgia has a zero-tolerance for impaired boating, and if caught you will go to jail.
Fulghum recommends that, just as you have a designated driver when drinking on land, you have a “designated skipper” if you plan to have alcohol on your boat.
Another important safety issue on the water is the use of life jackets. Georgia law requires there be enough life jackets for everyone on board.
“As far as life jackets, make sure each individual has a life jacket on the boat,” he said. “If they’re under the age of 13, they have to have a lifejacket on at all times. That’s a big safety issue on Lake Hartwell. We’ll be looking for boats with children making sure they have on a life jacket and that it’s the proper size and fit.”
This year, due to the COVID-19 safety issues, the life jacket lending stations on the lake are not available to the public.
Finally, if you’re planning to be out on the water this weekend, make sure you keep an eye on the forecast.
With highs expected to be in the ’80s, afternoon pop-up thunderstorms are predicted this weekend, and Fulghum says it’s important you know what to do in the event of a storm.
“The main thing is that you’re always prepared; keep an eye on the radar and make sure you can get to shore quickly and get to shelter fast in the event of a storm,” he explained. “Cellphones are very useful for using radar to let you know when a storm is coming. Try not to use the big water near the dam. Try to stay in these small areas where you can get back quickly to your home or the boat ramp. It looks like these storms start ramping up towards evening and after dark and the last place you want to be is on the water at night when a storm comes up. So always pay attention to your radar and to your surroundings.”
And a reminder to parents that it is now law in Georgia that all young people onboard your boat that were born after 1998 have a boater education license with them.
A free boater education safety course is available online at https://www.boat-ed.com/georgia/