Water can be fun.

Water can be dangerous. 

With the school year wrapped up and the summer vacation season beginning, people are hitting the waterways.

Whether fishing, swimming, skiing or just boating with family and friends, a lot of people enjoy themselves on area lakes during the summer months.

Drinking and boating can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving — and in some ways even more dangerous.

In the state of Georgia, the legal blood alcohol content for operating a boat is the same as for driving a car.

A blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or more is boating while under the influence.

Just as you would have a designated driver when you know your group or party will be consuming alcohol, have a designated skipper on the water.

Always make sure children are wearing approved life vests.

We want to remind you of these water safety tips from the American Red Cross:

– Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.

– Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.

– Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate water orientation and swimming courses.

– Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

– Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.

– Establish rules for your family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.

– Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shorelines, rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.

– If you go boating, wear a life jacket. Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.

– Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

– If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.

– Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls and playground equipment.

– Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

In the event of a water-related emergency, the Red Cross has said:

– If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.

– Know how and when to call 911 or the local emergency number.

– If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first-aid kit.

– Enroll in home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Have fun. Enjoy the summer months. Enjoy our beautiful outdoor vistas. But be safe.

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