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EMA Director: Treat Wilson Lake channel as a major highway in the Shoals

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Lauderdale County Emergency Management officials warn that the Wilson Lake channel can be dangerous for boaters.

They ask that when you're heading out on the water, to treat the channel as though it were a major highway.

"It's the interstate that runs through our Shoals area," said Lauderdale County EMA director George Grabryan, "and we've got a lot of commercial traffic that goes back and forth on the river."

With industry lining both shorelines, large barges frequent the channel. Small, recreational boats are drawn to the same area.

"They are the equivalent of the tractor trailers so to speak, or a train," Grabyan explained about commercial barged. "Then you've got the equivalent of a passenger cars which are the pleasure craft that are out there."

At night, the traffic poses a greater threat: low visibility. All vessels are required to have lights, but by the time boaters spot them, it could be too late.

"Those lights are very, very small on a lot of these boats," he explained. "The same light bulb on a lot of them is what was used very commonly in break lights or marker lights on a vehicle."

If you're going to face the channel in the dark, officials stress that you make the potentially life saving choice to wear a life jacket.