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Keep safe on the water
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SOCIAL CIRCLE — As expected, today’s 4th of July holiday is shaping up to be a busy one on Georgia’s lakes and waterways, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Conservation Rangers with the Department said they’re doing 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 57 boating incidents resulting in 27 injuries and 10 boating incident-related fatalities. Additionally, there have been 22 drownings in public waters. Conservation Rangers have issued 49 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,” Division Chief of Law Enforcement Col. Homer Bryson said. “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 responsibility 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 it’s not illegal to have alcohol on a boat, it is always a good idea to have a boat operator designated to stay sober.  A person age 21 or older with a blood alcohol content of .10 can be charged with boating under the influence.
Take a boating safety course.  For times and dates, go to
Wear your life jacket. This is recommended for all boaters.  Children younger than 10 years are required by law to wear a life jacket while on 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.  
For more information on boating safety or to take a boating safety course, go to or contact a local WRD law enforcement office.
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