Experts offer tips for safe boating ahead of Memorial Day weekend
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —It’s National Safe Boating Week, and multiple Law Enforcement Agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary are offering tips on how to safely enjoy the boating season ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
A lot of boaters are expected to be on the water this weekend for the unofficial start of summer. NC Wildlife Resources Commission has partnered with several state and local law enforcement agencies for the “On the Road, On the Water, Don’t Drink and Drive.”
The campaign is aimed at reducing alcohol-related incidents on roadways and waterways. According to NC Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 173 boating incidents last year. 23 of them were fatalities, and 16 involved alcohol.
For memorial day weekend, there will be an increased law enforcement presence on land and in the water. The Breath Alcohol Testing vehicle, also known as “Batmobile” will be on standby to conduct under the influence checks.
“The weather’s going to be nice, you’re going to be consuming a lot of,– a lot more alcohol. The stressors on the water, such as the wind, the sun, the waves, all have a greater impact on the way you normally would feel either sober or under the influence of alcohol.”
According to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, during the pandemic, boat sales went up by 40% with more people owning boats, there has also been an uptick in accidents on the water.
“Also during the last two years, there’s been a surge in boating accidents. Just annually, over the last year 770 deaths on the water, –boating fatalities, 3,200 injuries, and over 5,300 accidents.”
NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary encourages people with plans on the water to have a designated driver if you plan to drink. Also, those born after January 1, 1988 must complete an approved boating education course, before navigating a vessel, and to have life vests on-board.
“86% of the boating victims in accidents were not wearing what we call a PFD, a personal flotation device, a life jacket. Number one thing you can do is make sure everybody on your boat, including yourself,” said Lou
The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers free vessel safety exams, where they will check out your boat and safety equipment on board.