Park ranger stresses water safety for July 4 holiday

(Photo: WKRN)

HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Thousands of people are expected downtown and thousands more are expected out on the water on the Fourth of July in Middle Tennessee.

Before fireworks fill the night sky, throngs of people will be out on Old Hickory Lake, catching some sun and sand for the holidays.

“Tuesday’s going to be a busy day for us,” explained Park Ranger Jacob Albers. “[There’s] probably 10,000 boats on Old Hickory at any given time.”

Albers and several other rangers will patrol both land and lake, trying to keep everyone safe.

“Kind of keep an eye out making sure people abide by the rules,” said Albers. “We’re out here to make sure everybody stays safe. We’re not out here to ruin somebody’s weekend.”

Should you decide to brave the boating crowds and head downtown to watch the fireworks, you’ll need to pass through the Old Hickory Lock.

Before you leave, make sure you’re stocked with safety supplies, including a fire extinguisher, paddles, and plenty of life preservers.

“[There are] life jackets for each person on board,” said Albers. “Anybody 12 or under, according to state law, will have to wear it when the boat’s in motion.”

For those hoping to trek back to the lake after the grand finale, don’t be late, and be prepared to wait at the gate.

On average, officials with the Army Corps of Engineers say it takes around 45 minutes to travel through the lock.

On busy days such as the Fourth of July, that time can balloon to 1.5 hours or more.

The gate will close at 2 a.m., but boaters are urged to be in place by 12:30 a.m.