Boater Safety Week

WEST POINT, GA(WXTX)---Since West Point Lake was built in 1975, 100 people have drowned.

Ranger David Barr's number one tip during a water emergency is to stay calm, "When they start to panic, that is what causes the actual process of a person drowning and they cannot reason.  They quickly lose their breath; things tighten up in their throat."

Barr says a life jacket could have prevented many of these deaths.

It is a national law to have one jacket for every person on board, but if it does not fit, it does not count.  Barr explained, "One of the most common violations we found out here are children wearing adult sized life jackets.  If they were to fall into the water, that life jacket would just float over the top of their head and that child could drown."

Alcohol also has a history of causing accidents on the water, especially on a holiday weekend like Memorial Day.  "Out here on the water you are constantly moving on the boat and your sense of balance is already challenged.  When you add alcohol to that, it really adds to the equation.  I have seen people who have been under the influence of a few beers and actually fall out of the boat," said Barr.

Tips to remember before leaving the dock: make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to be back, check for a fire extinguisher, a throwing buoy, and that your boat plug is secure.

It is not required, but something they say you will not want to forget is a cell phone. Ranger David Scott said, "In today's world there is hardly a place on the lake where you do not have cell phone service."  And, as simple as it seems, Rangers also want you to remember to fully charge the phone before heading out.

They said 9 out of 10 9-11 calls from the lake are cut short because of a dead battery, causing their rescue to be delayed.

The Corps of Engineers are beefing up patrols for Memorial Day Weekend and will specifically be looking for unsafe boating acts.

The Coast Guard Aux will be at Mitchell Marine, in LaGrange, GA on Saturday, May 29th for free vessel safety examinations.  Sunday, May 30th, the boat checks will be held at America's Waterway Watch station at
Yellow Jacket Park boat ramp.

The Corps of Engineers are offering a hands-on Boating Education course on June 5th.  They encourage you to bring your boat and your family to learn more than just the laws, but practical operational tips.  For more information call 706-645-2937.