Officials: Stay safe on the water this July 4

ATLANTA — With so much focus on the highways this Independence Day, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is encouraging boaters to play it safe on the water.

“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,” DNR Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver said in a news release.

“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,” Weaver added. “These people are in your hands and we want you to take that seriously.”

To date in 2011, there have been seven boating deaths in Georgia and 22 drownings in state waters, according to the DNR. Also, rangers have issued 79 citations for boating under the influence (BUI), DNR numbers show.

Officials offer a number of tips for staying safe on the waters this holiday, including wearing a life vest, not drinking while boating and knowing the rules for boating. They also suggest taking a boating safety class.

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