Practice these Safety Boating Tips for July 4th Holiday!

Finally, summer is officially here! People are gearing up for the July 4th holiday for family picnics, enjoying the fireworks displays and sailing across the beautiful lake in style! Those with access to a boat have plenty of options across the Carolinas where multiple lakes or even the ocean is right on your doorstep.

But before you dust off your water skis, wakeboards, and tubes — or paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes, if those are more your speed – consider these five tips for safe boating.

Tip #1. See and Be Seen
No matter which kind of boat you’re in, visibility is key. Not only do you need to make sure you have a clear view of your surroundings, but other boaters should be able to see you too. During the day, wear polarized sunglasses to banish the bright glare that reflects off the water. And at night, make sure all of the lights on your boat are in good working order and always turned on.

Tip #2. Safety First, Always Wear a Lifejacket
In North Carolina, while operating a personal watercraft (including human-powered boats like canoes, kayaks, and rowboats) you must wear an approved personal flotation device at all times. Children under 13 years of age must also wear an approved life jacket.
So, what’s the difference between a lifejacket and a personal floatation device?
Lifejacket:
• Generally, provides better floatation and thermal insulation than a personal flotation device (PFD).
• Designed to turn you onto your back so your face doesn’t rest in the water, even if you’re unconscious.
• Color selection is limited to red, orange, or yellow for greater visibility.
Personal floatation device:
• For recreational use only
• More comfortable (lighter and less bulky) than a lifejacket
• May be designed for a specific sport
• Usually provides less floatation and thermal protection than a lifejacket
• Wider variety of color options (darker colors reduce visibility)

Tip #3. Boat Like You’re on the Road.
Many boating accidents are caused by the same factors that cause car accidents, including speed, careless or distracted driving and poor visibility. Be sure to bring all of your safe driving habits with you when you’re operating a boat — and if your boat has a motor, you’ll need to bring your boating license with you too.

Tip #4. Don’t Drink Alcohol While Operating a Boat
This one should be pretty self-explanatory. See Tip #4 above. While it may be tempting to enjoy a few cold drinks on the dock before hitting the lake, boating while impaired (even in a canoe or kayak) increases your risk of an accident and could land you with the same penalties as drinking and driving. Simply put, don’t drink alcohol before you get behind the wheel or pick up a paddle.

Tip #5. Don’t Forget About Insurance
While most home insurance policies include some coverage for certain types of watercraft, other types (larger models or ones with higher horsepower or modifications, for example) may require separate policies. Boat insurance could protect you in the event of damage or theft to your own boat or a liability claim that results from the use of your boat.

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