Safe Boating Rules Every Lake Norman Boat Owner Should Know
For Lake Norman boat owners, the recent seasonal shift means it’s time to go from land to the water for another great North Carolina “boating season!” We are fortunate to be able to call such a beautiful lake “home.”
Considering the average temperature for the upcoming week ranges in the mid 70’s, the weather conditions will be ideal for getting your boat back on the water again. Before you, your family and friends head out for some fun in the sun, it’s vital to refresh yourself with some safe boating rules. Taking the time to understand maritime safety can prevent injury, damaged equipment, or save someone’s life.
Unsafe boating presents a serious risk to anyone on the waters of Lake Norman. In 2011 alone, there were 142 total accidents, 25 of which were fatal. By practicing safe boating habits you not only protect your family and friends but everyone who is boating.
“Warmer weather means boat owners are going to be getting out on the water much more often,” says Lowry Hobbs of Westport Marina. “Familiarizing yourself with safe boating practices is key for making every boating experience a pleasure.”
Safe Boating Rules
Below are rules for boat safety:
- Be Weather-Wise – Before you leave your home to head for the water, be sure to check your local weather station for any dangerous weather predictions. In the event you notice dark clouds, choppy water, or any drops in the temperature, we advise you stay off the water.
- Follow Pre-Departure Checklist – In the event of an emergency, sometimes you have no time to seek assistance. Have a list of items that you can confirm are stored on deck in case they are needed before departing. With these materials onboard, you are prepared for any possibility while on the water.
- Make Proper Use of Lifejackets – Nine of ten drowning victims may have survived a capsizing or fall overboard if they had been wearing a life jacket. Make sure your family and friends do not become apart of this statistic by assigning them a lifejacket upon them boarding the boat.
- Develop a Float Plan – If you are spending an extended amount of time onboard a boat or plan on traveling a far distance, document who is with you, everyone’s contact information, and an of indication of the planned boating route. In times of emergency, float plans serve as an information source about whomever is involved in an accident.
- Avoid Alcohol – Same as with a car, alcohol impairs judgment. Operating a boat under the influence is not an option for boat operators. The probability of being involved in an accident doubles when alcohol is in the picture. Avoid consumption for the safety of yourself, your family, friends and other boaters on the water.
- Dress for the Water Temperature – Regardless of the air temperature, the water may still be very cold. Explore the option of wet suits. They offer insulation in the event you fall off of the boat, or it capsizes.
- Designate an Assistant Skipper – Have another person who is familiar with boating safety tips, as well as all aspects of your boat. In the event something happens to the boat’s operator, they can step in, easily take control of the vessel, and get everyone back to shore safely.
- Learn To Swim – If you’re going to be around water, we strongly advised that you are familiar with how to swim. Proper boating safety includes the ability to swim.
- Take a Boating Course – For anyone from a beginner to an expert, boating courses can be a great help for sharpening your boating service and navigation skills. It’s important to be educated and aware of all aspects of boating in case an emergency is to arise.
- Use A Carbon Monoxide Detector – Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can make you sick and even kill. All internal combustion engines emit it. Keeping a carbon monoxide detector on your boat can notify you before levels rise too high, putting you and your passengers at risk of inhaling the lethal gas.
“Most dangerous boating situations can be completely avoided by taking the time to educate yourself and those around you on safe boating practices,” explains Hobbs. “That way, you can spend your time getting out on the water for a danger-free escape from your hectic day-to-day schedule!”
To learn more about safe boating rules, or if you have any other questions, contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary, or the Lake Norman Power Squadron. We look forward to helping you have a safer, more enjoyable boating experience on the gorgeous Lake Norman!