From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY – The Fourth of July is always a busy time on Alabama’s waterways, but far too often celebration turn tragic when safety precautions aren’t respected.
With the holiday weekend approaching, state officials urge everyone planning to spend time on the water to do so responsibly.
“The last thing we want to do is take the fun out of the Fourth,” said Hal Taylor of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). “We ask boaters of all ages to work with us to ensure everyone makes it home safely at the end of the day, particularly following fireworks displays planned on several of the state’s more popular waterways.”
This Saturday, July 4 is expected to draw large numbers to lakes and beaches throughout the weekend, prompting ALEA to place all available Troopers on patrol.
ALEA’s Marine Patrol Division has provided the following water safety tips:
- The designated driver practice works just as well on the water as it does on the road. If boaters insist on having alcohol on board, make sure there is a designated driver.
- Be courteous and cautious.
- Follow boating rules. Know what to do in a head-to-head meeting and know the right-of-way rules and regulations.
- Make sure life jackets are accessible, in good condition, sized for the intended individual and U.S. Coast Guard-approved. There must be one personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person on the boat that is sized and intended for that individual. Children younger than the age of 8 must wear PFDs.
- Keep an eye on the sky: Monitor local weather throughout the day and adjust plans accordingly.
- Give other boaters plenty of room. Don’t operate too closely to private docks or the shoreline and give skiers and swimmers a wide berth.
- Never overload a vessel. Follow the capacity plate guidelines.
- Make it a habit to check the vessel’s safety equipment before using the vessel – every time.
Another safety tip concerns boating at night, which is more prevalent on the Fourth due to fireworks shows on the water.
“When boating at night, make sure the required navigation lights are on and in good working order,” read a release from ALEA. “Operate at slower speeds and don’t venture into unfamiliar territory.”
Below is a list of locations, which have obtained permits for their annual Fourth of July fireworks shows.
Permitted Fireworks Shows
- Coosa River, Wetumpka
- Point Clear
- Lake Mitchell
- Lake Martin – Parker Creek
- Cooper Riverside Park, Mobile
- Turquoise Resort, Orange Beach
- Mobile Bay, Daphne
- Lay Lake (4)
- Perdido Beach
- Fairhope Pier
- Fish River
- Fowl River
- Tombigbee River – City of Jackson
- Lake Jordan
- Lake Wedowee
- Lake Martin – Kowaliga
- Lake Martin – Blue Creek
- Orange Beach (3)
- Gulf Shores
- Neely Henry Lake
- Lake Logan Martin
- Dauphin Island
- Lake Guntersville, Goose Pond Colony
- Smith Lake, Devil’s Branch
Cancelled Fireworks Shows
- Mobile River – City of Mobile
- Mobile Bay – City of Mobile
- Mobile Bay – City of Fairhope
- Lake Harding
- Smith Lake – Cullman County (Smith Lake Park)
- Smith Lake – Rock Creek
- Lake Guntersville – City of Guntersville
- Pickwick Lake – City of Florence
- Wheeler Lake – City of Huntsville
- Wheeler Lake – City of Decatur
- Bear Creek Watershed – Franklin County