A Safe and Happy 4th of July
Boating safety is important every day, but on holiday weekends boaters should practice extra caution.
The 4th of July holiday is one of the busiest times of the year, not only on the road, but also on the water.
More than one-third of all boating-related accidents and fatalities occur on Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day. Boaters with various levels of experience will be on the water this weekend, and it is critical to be prepared, stay alert and use caution.
Preparation starts the minute you decide to spend the day on the water. Before packing everything and loading everyone up, make sure your boat is properly equipped and that all equipment is working. If you plan to celebrate past nightfall or watch fireworks from the boat, make sure you have the required navigation lights so that you can be seen.
Boating accidents happen fast, so be prepared for an emergency. Make sure all passengers are familiar with basic emergency procedures and know where to locate emergency equipment. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that every passenger in the boat have a life jacket and that children wear a life jacket at all times. Other essential gear to have onboard includes flashlights, batteries, duct tape, rope, a waterproof whistle and a first aid kit.
Always stay updated on weather forecasts and the current conditions. The average temperature for the 4th of July in southeastern North Carolina is in the upper 90s. Applying sunscreen and staying hydrated are two of the most important things to keep in mind while spending a day on the water.
Mostly importantly, you should never drink alcohol and operate a boat. It is not only dangerous, but also illegal. The motion of the water, the sun, heat and wind all heighten the effects of alcohol on the body and brain.
While out on the water, always practice the 3 Cs — caution, courtesy and common sense. Be cautious in high-traffic areas, especially areas with swimmers. Be courteous and patient with your fellow boaters, and use common sense and your best judgement to stay safe this July 4th!