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Safety a focus as revelers jam Lake Lanier for holiday


• Wear a life jacket

• Have onboard all required safety equipment

• Take a safe boating course

• Check the weather forecast

• Carry a navigation chart

• Follow navigation rules

• Check electrical and fuel systems for gas fumes

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Lanier is one of the most popular year-round destinations under U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction, drawing more than 7.5 million visitors each year.

Visits to the lake spike as summer temperatures begin their ascent during the proverbial dog days — and more so during this extended Independence Day holiday.

Col. James DeLapp, the Army Corps of Engineers district commander in Mobile, Ala., that supervises Lake Lanier, said full capacity is expected during the festive Fourth of July holiday. DeLapp said personal safety should be ever-present while celebrating the nation’s anniversary.

“More than 150 Americans drown each year at corps parks,” DeLapp warned. “On average, about 89 percent of those who drown were not wearing a life jacket.”

Tragedy struck often at Lake Lanier in 2016 with 17 deaths, including nine drownings and eight boating-related fatalities, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. This year’s incidents include at least two deaths — the drowning of a Buford man in February, and a jet skier from Cumming who drowned after a crash in April.

DNR spokesman Mark McKinnon attributes the growing number of incidents on Lake Lanier to the volume of visitors.

“Lanier has more boaters and swimmers than any other lake in the state,” McKinnon said.