Lake Lanier is a thing of unquestioned beauty, especially now that a rainy spring has brought water levels back where they belong. For those of us used to living near its shores it is a tourist attraction and economic engine that we sometimes take for granted. And as a source of water it is absolutely vital to metro Atlanta and the state.
Sometimes the lake is such a familiar part of our surroundings that we forget that hidden within its depths and along its shores are dangers we don’t fully appreciate.
One need look no farther than recent news stories from the area to understand how a single lapse of judgment can sometimes lead to injury and even death on Lake Lanier.
Last weekend a fun afternoon of tubing turned deadly when a woman drowned. Last month, a boat driven late at night by a teenager struck a personal watercraft, leaving two young people injured. In Hall County last week, a judge ruled prosecution should move forward in a case involved a man accused of causing a boating accident that left two children dead.
As quickly as a wave can splash over the bow of a boat, moments of recreation and relaxation can turn deadly for those who don’t respect the dangers of playing on the lake.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Every summer it seems, there are drownings in Lanier that should have been easily avoidable; boating accidents that didn’t have to happen. Too often deaths or injuries could be prevented if someone just wore a life jacket, slowed down a boat, watched the water for others, had a little less to drink.
There’s something about being on the lake that convinces some people that nothing can ever happen to them. Those who might be cautious when on land sometimes take unnecessary chances on the water, as though the liquid surface and summer sun somehow provide an umbrella of protection and invincibility.
Law enforcement officers, such as the boat patrol of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and rangers of the DNR, try to remind boaters and swimmers of the dangers and hazards, but the reservoir is too big to be covered completely by the manpower at hand.
A tougher boating under the influence law gives law enforcement another tool in trying to keep the lake safe, but there’s not legislation that can force people to use caution and common sense.
Summer is upon us and heavy use of the lake is a given. Give the water the respect it’s due. In the words of a classic old TV show, “Let’s be careful out there.”