National Safe Boating Week promotes caution ahead of holiday weekend

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — National Boating Safety Week kicked off on May 21, with many boaters preparing to hit the water over Memorial Day Weekend.

Rich O’Donnell, Southport Flotilla Commander with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, says the goal is to remind new and experienced boaters of the things they can do to keep themselves safer on the water.

“There’s a correlation between boating safety training, our trained operators and vessel accidents,” O’Donnell said. “The number of people involved with vessel accidents was higher when most people had no record of formal boating safety training.

O’Donnell also recommends always wearing a life jacket, getting a vessel safety check, using an engine cutoff switch, and staying aware of weather conditions.

“All of those things can contribute to boating accidents, so we always recommend that people wear a life jacket, a suitable life jacket, a life jacket that’s made for the purpose of the type of boating they’re doing,” he said.

Drinking and boating also leads to accidents, and is something O’Donnell says the Coast Guard takes very seriously.

“We always recommend that boaters don’t drink and boat,” he said. “There’s a bad correlation between intoxicated boaters and fatal boating accidents, particularly bad accidents.”

Any person born on or after January 1, 1988, must complete an approved boating safety course before operating a vessel with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater on North Carolina waters. However, O’Donnell recommends anyone born before 1988 also enrolls in a course.

Courses are available online, but the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has scheduled several in-person classes that can be completed in one day. They are planned for:

May 28 – Boiling Spring Lakes

June 25 – Oak Island

July 16 – Shallotte

August 6 – Oak Island

You can find out more information here.

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