CHARLOTTE (John D Simmons/The Charlotte Observer) - With Memorial Day the unofficial start of the summer boating season, officials are warning residents to be safe as they hit the lakes this season.
Last year, 13 people died in boating accidents in North Carolina, said Officer Sampson Parker Jr., with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Alcohol was a factor in two of these deaths. In 12 of the deaths, the victims were not wearing life preservers, Parker said.
"Our goal is for the boating public to have a safe and fun time any time they are out on the water," Parker said.
On Wednesday, the Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, North Carolina Health & Human Services and the Cornelius Police Department gathered at Blythe Landing on Lake Norman to ask the public to be safe and sober during their joint annual "On the Road and On the Water" campaign.
Parker warned that patrols and checkpoints will be set up on area roads and on Lake Wylie, Mountain Island Lake and Lake Norman to ensure public safety.
Parker stressed the importance of maintaining a sober boat operator and having a designated driver to and from area lakes to avoid fines and possible jail time.
Boating safety tips
- Stay sober.
- Wear floatation devices.
- Stay seated while the boat is moving.
- Have a working fire extinguisher on board.
- Check the lights on your boat and boat trailer to make sure they are working.