As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey, who also serves as the State Fire Marshal, reminds people to take safety precautions during one of the most popular water recreational times of the year.
“Independence Day is a great opportunity to celebrate our freedom on the water with friends, family and neighbors,” said Commissioner Causey. “It’s important to remember to be safe and responsible as you head out on the boat, jet ski, kayak or as you swim so these joyous celebrations don’t turn into terrible tragedies.”
In 2016, the most recent year in which statistics are available, there were 147 boating accidents in North Carolina resulting in 23 deaths, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Of those 147 accidents, 15 were alcohol related.
To prevent a boating or other water sport accident, Commissioner Causey encourages everyone in North Carolina to remember these important safety reminders:
- Wear life jackets: Adults and children should always wear a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on boats or jet skis, around open bodies of water or when participating in other water sports. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have the child make a “touchdown” signal by raising both arms straight up; if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.
- Don’t drink and boat: A large portion of boating accidents each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers. To keep you and your loved ones safe, it is strongly recommended not to drink alcoholic beverages while boating. It is illegal to operate a boat while intoxicated.
- Learn CPR: We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
- Use an engine cut-off device: An engine cut-off device is a proven safety device to stop the boat or jet ski’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids N.C. regularly partners with local communities and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission with the goal of reducing boating accidents statewide.
For more boater safety tips, visit www.safekids.org/tip/boating-safety-tips.