Being a safe boater isn’t just smart, it’s the law.
Regulations are in effect to protect the boating community in North Carolina. Wildlife officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission want to increase awareness of the regulations to prevent accidents by offering pre-launch courtesy inspections at various public access areas throughout the summer.
“But boaters can do their own pre-launch inspection,” said Maj. Chris Huebner, the state boating safety coordinator. “We provide a checklist, a vessel operator’s guide and other useful information online at www.ncwildlife.org/boating that could save a life.”
One important state regulation requires anyone younger than 26 operating a vessel powered by a 10-horsepower or greater motor must complete an approved boating safety education course and carry their certification, or otherwise be in compliance. The Wildlife Commission offers free boating safety education courses throughout the year.
National Safe Boating Week is May 18-24 and safety advocates will encourage wearing life vests, both when it’s required and those times it’s common sense.
“Wearing a life vest is one of the most effective and simplest life-saving strategies there is,” said Maj. Huebner. “Life vests are no longer the bulky, cumbersome models of years past, with plenty of options available. Finding which model works best for you, then wearing it, can mean the difference between life and death.”
Both state and federal regulations require that a Type I, II or III personal flotation device in good condition and of appropriate size be accessible for each person onboard a recreational vessel, including canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other non-motorized craft. Sailboards, racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
North Carolina law requires children younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest whenever they are on a recreational vessel that is under way. It must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and be a proper fit, with youth sizes corresponding to weight. The law also requires all personal watercraft riders and anyone being towed to wear proper life vests.
For more information on where to boat and public access areas, as well as registering and titling, navigation rules and safety, go to www.ncwildlife.org or call 919-707-0031.