Local News

Boating safety patrols ready for holiday weekend

Posted May 24, 2008 3:58 p.m. EDT
Updated May 24, 2008 6:23 p.m. EDT

— With thousands of boaters expected to cruise the state’s waterways this holiday weekend, officers will be patrolling to keep accidents on the water at a minimum.

State Wildlife Division Officer Brent Ward said he and other officers will patrol Falls Lake checking for boat registrations and safety equipment.

Boats should be equipped with:

  • personal flotation devices (PFD)
  • a fire extinguisher
  • a type 4 throw cushion (on boats 16 feet or larger)
  • registration papers

Officials say children under 13 must wear a PFD at all times.

“We talk about it a lot – safety precautions – because kids can really get in deep trouble out here if he’s not paying attention to what he’s doing,” boater Jeffery Clifton said Saturday.

Clifton’s son, Thomas, said he follows the rules so he “won’t fall off the boat or drown.”

The state Wildlife Commission performed more than 78,000 safety checks from October 2006 to September 2007. Officials said about 15 percent of boaters got warnings and nearly 400 boaters were operating while intoxicated.

The state had more than 200 boating accidents in 2006, the most recent year boating statistics were available. Six of those occurred in Wake County, including four at Falls Lake. Also in 2006, deadly boating accidents occurred on the Neuse River, Tar River and Jordan Lake.

Boaters are also being advised to watch their speed.

Keeping boaters safe isn't just relegated to the water. The Civil Air Patrol is also planning flyovers of area lakes on every weekend through Labor Day. Ray Walters of Civil Air Patrol said they plan to look for people in distress.