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State, Forsyth authorities urge caution on Lake Lanier as weather warms

CUMMING — With boating and swimming season kicking off on Lake Lanier, officials are offering some tips to stay safe on and in the water.

To ensure boaters know all the rules, there are boater education courses that will teach answers to tidbits such as the 100-foot law, the minimum age required for a boat operator and whether passengers can drink alcohol in a boat, according to Ranger Shane Brown with the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division.

“Remember that anyone born after Jan. 1, 1998, must take an approved course to operate a boat on Georgia waters,” Brown said.

Information on classroom, online and home study courses is available at

One of the most important pieces of advice to remember is to wear a life jacket.

“You can’t grab a stowed life jacket if you are ejected during an accident,” he said.

Both Brown and Josh Watson, marine patrol commander for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, urged lake-goers against drinking and boating.

“We don’t take it lightly,” Watson said.

He also suggested, “If you’re going boating on Lake Lanier and you’re not familiar with it, take someone with you who is … because it’s easy to get lost, which could lead to you staying the night out there until you find help.”

Keeping children under adult supervision while on the lake is important, too.

“We answer a lot of missing child calls because they wander away or they’re not being watched closely,” Watson said. “And around water, that’s more serious.”

He cautioned swimmers to be aware of colder water temperatures until the thick of summer, even if air temperatures have warmed.

“Make sure you do a safety check on your own boat, and make sure all of the required equipment is there and working,” he said. “Faulty equipment can lead to a boat fire.”

While ensuring the boat is in top condition, taking care of yourself is just as important.

“We run a lot of medical calls for heat stroke,” he said. “If they’re out there drinking, or just in the sun for too long, they may not realize they’re getting dehydrated.”