After Lake Norman drowning, officials urging people to properly secure life jacket while boating

After Lake Norman drowning, officials urging people to properly secure life jacket while boating
Avid boaters say life jackets need to feel tight and be properly secured for safety. (Source: WBTV)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) - After officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission found the body of a missing swimmer on Lake Norman, they’re urging boaters to properly secure life jackets while boating.

The incident occurred after a 22-year-old man jumped from a rented boat he was on along with nine other people.

Upon entering the water, the man’s life jacket reportedly slipped off and he did not resurface. The boat operator attempted to find the man but was unsuccessful.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is how important it is to cinch it tight around the waist," said John Gillette, who manages the Lake Norman Boat Club at Lake Norman Marina. “It should be very snug, that’s the main thing right there.”

It isn’t required by law for adults to wear life jackets while boating. Instead the law says you must have enough life jackets on board for everybody on the boat. Kids under the age of 13 are required to wear them at all times. But expert boaters and officials say the best way to stay safe while boating is to wear a life jacket the right way.

Boaters don’t just warn that ill-fitting life jackets could slip off, they say they could cause other problems as well and increase your risk of drowning.

“It could come up over you head and hold you in a drowning position," said Gillette. He demonstrated that the life jacket gets stuck around your shoulders if it’s not right around your waist. When it does this, it keeps the persons head under water and if you are unable to get the life jacket down, you could overtire and drawn. Gillette says he knows the feeling from experience.

“if it slides up, it can get stuck,” he said. "It happened to me as a young teenager, thankfully I was able to get the life jacket down.

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