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DNR urges safe boating over the holiday period
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SCMPD also watching the waters

With Independence Day ahead, Chatham County’s Intra-Coastal Waterways will be filled with boaters enjoying the firework displays and summer fun along the Savannah and Wilmington rivers.

To ensure that boaters have a safe and enjoyable time, Marine Patrol officers will be on constant patrol starting this Saturday. Boaters can expect to see the officers throughout the holiday, checking vessels for required safety equipment and taking corrective action as needed.

The state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division urges boaters to wear a life jacket, boat sober and stay alert during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

"It is easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit," said Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver, "but do not let the excitement of being out on the water deter you from your responsibility. Be alert and prepared for the safety of your passengers and for others on the water."

So far this year in Georgia, 54 boating incidents have resulted in 22 injuries and five boating incident-related fatalities. Additionally, there have been 17 drownings on public waters. Conservation rangers have issued 63 boating under the influence citations statewide.

Following are some of the many recommended safety rules for boat and personal watercraft (PWC) operators:

• Designate an operator. Do not drink and operate a boat.

• Take a boating safety course. Visit for course listings.

• Wear a life jacket. Children under 10 years of age are required by law to wear a life jacket while onboard a moving boat, 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.

PWC 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 your PWC is aware of boating laws and how to safely operate a PWC. As the owner, you can be held responsible.

For more information, visit