WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed this week, May 21-27, National Safe Boating Week. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and other agencies are reminding boaters to stay safe on the water.
“In 2021, 23 people lost their lives on North Carolina waters; 16 of them were not wearing a life vest. [Personal flotation devices] save lives, but they won’t work if you don’t wear them,” said Capitan Branden Jones of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
The NCWRC stresses the importance of wearing a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device at all times. The fit should be snug and comfortable, and the vest shouldn’t raise above the wearer’s chin when lifted.
Boats should also have a designated driver; driving a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is both illegal and dangerous.
“It’s imperative to designate a sober driver whether you’re in a vehicle or on a boat. Undoubtedly a designated driver will prevent alcohol-related incidents on the road and in the water and make everyone’s holiday weekend more enjoyable,” said Lieutenant Forrest Orr of the Wildlife Commission.
Per the NCWRC, responsible boaters should also:
- Assign an adult “Water Watcher” to actively supervise children in or around the water at all times. Young children and people who are not strong swimmers should always be kept within arm’s reach.
- Swim only in designated areas. You are less visible to boaters and more vulnerable to accidents. Avoid diving in unfamiliar areas, as there may be hidden structures.
- Throw, don’t go. Be prepared to throw a floatation device or use a pole or tree branch to reach someone struggling in the water. Never jump in to save someone because you could go under too.
- Attend a boater safety course. The Wildlife Commission offers an array of boating education classes. If you were born on or after January 1, 1988, you must complete an approved course before operating any vessel propelled by a motor of 10 HP or greater.
Owners should also replace any fire extinguishers over 12 years old with a 5-B or 20-B date stamped extinguisher. You can learn more about boating laws and safety at the NC Wildlife website.
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