DNR expects big crowds on lakes for holiday weekend

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It will be a busy holiday weekend on all the lakes around metro Atlanta. The Department of Natural Resources will be out patrolling, making sure boaters stay safe.

Last Fourth of July weekend, the DNR made 32 arrests for boating under the influence and worked five drownings. This year, they're hoping for a safer holiday weekend.

The water on Lake Lanier may be calm right now, but this weekend, it will be packed with boats, including ones manned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"Typically on a holiday weekend, no one is scheduled off, all of us are working, all of our boats are running," explains DNR Conservation Corporal, Adam Loudermilk.

A crowded, summer weekend, gives them a chance to spread their message and try to keep people safe.

"There's just so many more people out here. The more people we can get in contact with, the more people we can  give our message of making sure everyone's being safe and got all their safety equipment," Cpl. Loudermilk adds.

And there's plenty to keep in mind as you crank up that boat. "You've got to have one wearable PFD, or lifejacket, for each person on board the boat, one fire extinguisher for the boat, and also a type-4 throwable device for the boat and any child under the age of 13 has to be wearing that lifejacket when the boat's in motion," he explains.

The Chitvanni family, from Sugar Hill, was pulled over for a random safety check. "We have kids on the boat, here. We have 5 kids under the age of 13, and they all have their life vests on and we agree with the safety protocols of kids having their life vests on. Even when they're swimming, we have them keep their life vests on," says Kim Chitvanni.

They say it's reassuring to see DNR patrolling the waters. "I think having the DNR here through the 4th of July weekend is a good thing, so that they can make sure all the safety precautions are being taken and everyone can have a fun weekend a great time and still be safe," Kim adds.

So, before the fireworks light up the sky on the 4th of July, DNR has a message for you. "Be safe, make sure all your safety equipment is on board, make sure you do have a designated operator for the boat, make sure the kids are in lifejackets, make sure your lights are working if you're going to be in the boat after dark," Cpl. Loudermilk says.