GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – Independence Day is this weekend and after missing out on the festivities last year, many are looking for ways to celebrate Independence Day and the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is also expecting to see huge amounts of people taking advantage of beautiful Lake Guntersville.
While it can get hot on the lake during the summer months and some may want to quench their thirst with a cold alcoholic beverage, troopers tell News 19 the heat, water activity and drinking doesn’t make for a safe weekend.
“There’s a thing called water fatigue where you’re out here in the sun and the wind and the waves and your body naturally gets tired just from that alone so when you add alcohol to that, it just enhances all of those things,” explained Cpl. Robert Ping.
That also goes for non-motorized vessels like kayaks and floats.
Marine patrol troopers will be working with special agents on “Operation Dry Water” focusing on lowering the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities on Alabama waterways.
“Alcohol is going to influence you no matter how much you’ve had to drink,” Ping added.
Ping says general boating safety rules still apply including having enough personal floatation devices, a flotation cushion, a functional fire extinguisher, and using a kill switch lanyard.
“We call it the seatbelt on the water because if you get in an accident or get thrown from that seat from another boater’s wake, it’s the only thing that’s going to shut off that vessel,” said Ping.
“People usually collide where there’s a lot of other boat traffic. This lake’s just so congested during the summertime especially holidays. You just have to pay attention where you’re going,” said Trooper Kevin Hawkins.
Hawkins has worked two serious incidents in his two years with the division.
“Lady was on a jet ski, ran into the side of another person’s vessel, punched a hole in his vessel and she left and we never found her. The other one was in the same area by ‘Top O’ The River’ and two boats collided and it moved everybody inside the boats around, ended up hurting some of the people inside,” added Hawkins.
He says most people on Lake Guntersville are safe, though, adding they more often just issue citations for wake zones and rules of the road violations.
Troopers told News 19 they want folks to come out and enjoy all that beautiful Lake Guntersville has to offer, but in a safe way, so everyone can go home afterwards.
Children eight and under must be wearing a life jacket at all times while on a vessel.
Ping says it is also important to have the flotation devices and cushion nearby because in the water, seconds matter.