Holidays, particularly holiday weekends, are prime times for families and individuals to take to the waters at area lakes and rivers to cool down and have some fun. Lake Lanier is no exception — it’s a busy lake during these times, with lake-goers enjoying boating, jet skiing, kayaking and more on the water.
While there’s certainly fun to be had on Lake Lanier, there are also dangers inherent in spending time on the lake, which claimed another life on Saturday. May 29, as Memorial Day weekend drew visitors. At Shoal Creek, an adult male who jumped into the water from an inflatable raft to retrieve an oar never resurfaced, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which identified the drowning victim as Xi Zhu, 56, of Marietta.
The US Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Lake Lanier, has issued water safety guidelines for the summer season, with five things to keep in mind before entering or being around the water:
• Expect the unexpected — Accidents can happen within seconds, so always be prepared for the unexpected. If you are ejected from a boat, fall, or jump into water that is colder than 70 degrees, you can inhale water from involuntary gasping, hyperventilation, panic, and sometimes vertigo that can cause you to drown. You can also be knocked unconscious if you are ejected from your boat or fall into the water along the shoreline while fishing.
• Wear a life jacket — By providing time to be rescued, it will help ensure you survive an unexpected fall into the water. It can also save your life if you become exhausted due to fatigue, waves or current while swimming. An adult can drown in 60 seconds and it takes a strong swimmer 10 minutes to put on a life jacket after entering the water. Life Jackets Worn … Nobody Mourns.
• Know your swimming abilities — Be aware that swimming in natural waters such as a lake, river, or pond is different from swimming in a pool, and your swimming ability decreases with age. It is never too late to take swimming lessons and learn to swim well. Several people every year drown while swimming to retrieve boats and toys. Let those go because they are not worth losing your life over.
• Alcohol and water are a deadly combination — Alcohol induces an inner ear condition (caloric labyrinthitis) that can cause you to become disoriented when underwater and not realize which way is up. If you jump or fall in the water, you can become disoriented and swim down instead of up to safety, causing you to drown. This can more likely happen if you have been consuming alcohol.
• Understand “boater’s hypnosis” — It is a condition brought on by the effects of sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion experienced during a day of boating. Boater’s hypnosis can slow your reaction time almost as much as if you were legally intoxicated. Adding alcohol to this condition intensifies the effects.