Safety always a concern at the Lake of the Ozarks

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LAKE OZARK – Labor Day Weekend brings boaters of all backgrounds to the Lake of the Ozarks, which brings with it questions of safety for both residents and visitors.

The Lake of the Ozarks has been a topic of discussion in recent history from a legislative standpoint. The 85 square miles that make up the lake have seen a variety of proposals including no-wake zones, swimming near docks and boat size.

For some consistent lake-goers, increased legislation is not the answer. Village Marina sales associate Joe Burns says the majority of safety concerns stem from the boaters on the water.

“You don’t have near as many educated boaters out there,” Burns said. “You get a lot more people who aren’t really as familiar with the lake and sometimes get lost and don’t really know the rules of boating.”

Currently, Missouri residents born before Jan. 1, 1984 are not required to have boater’s education to operate a vessel, according to Boat Missouri Course’s website.

“I think boater education is a big thing,” Burns said. “What you have, though, is a grandfathered-in law, and you have somebody, say, that’s 40-years-old that isn’t required to get a boater’s safety card.”

Burns added that limited boater’s education can lead to property damages resulting from strong wakes in no-wake zones and a lack of general knowledge on the lake and its varying waterways.

"I think there just needs to be more etiquette out there as far as how far you need to be from the docks to not damage people's private property."