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Tips to stay safe for 4th of July
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Ranger 1st Class Mark Stephens peeks into a boat Wednesday as Nick and Mike Poline pull out their fire extinguisher to show Stephens. - photo by Erin O. Smith
Take a national holiday, add alcohol, fast boats and boxes of fireworks and you get this year’s Fourth of July weekend for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources on Lake Lanier.

DNR rangers will partner on six different boats patrolling different zones of the lake this weekend.

On Wednesday, Ranger 1st Class Mark Stephens turns on his blue lights and asks boaters to show all of their required safety gear. Mike Poline and his son Nick from Johns Creek pass the inspection and continue out of the no wake zone.

“Some of these crazy folks make it not fun for a lot of people,” Mike Poline said.

Here are a few ways to keep it fun and safe.

Fireworks

Bigger, some may say better, fireworks are now for sale in Georgia.

Take a page out of Wile E. Coyote’s playbook — fireworks and gasoline don’t mix.

“This year with the law coming into effect, we really don’t know what to expect,” said DNR public information officer Mark McKinnon. He and Ranger 1st Class Mark Stephens ask that boaters use common sense and keep explosives away from gas tanks.

Alcohol

For those that drink like a fish, DNR rangers ask they keep the skipper dry.

“If there’s 50 people on your houseboat, and they’re all drinking, that’s fine,” McKinnon said. “Just make sure you got one guy that’s not, and he’s behind the wheel.”

Since the passage of the Jake and Griffin Prince BUI Law that lowered the legal limit to 0.08, Stephens said he has noticed less alcohol consumption. The Fourth of July nights, however, still bring out the hardy partiers.

Equipment

After lake lovers dust cobwebs off the boat for Memorial Day, Stephens said by July Fourth, most registration and mechanical issues have been corrected.

“We’re always trying to educate people, handing those (information) books out and trying to get people on board with what we do,” he said.

Boaters need to have life jackets, throw cushion, charged fire extinguisher and backup lights.

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