Wildlife Commission Stresses Boating Safety During Holiday
Boating at night increases during summer months, especially around July 4 when many recreational boaters go out to view fireworks displays over water.
"As the sun sets, boaters have to be more alert," said Wildlife Enforcement Officer Chris Holmes, as he patrolled Harris Lake near Fuquay-Varina on a recent Saturday. "Proper navigation lights are a must. Inland lighting rules are stated in the Vessel Operator's Guide and online at www.ncwildlife.org. It's the same as driving a motor vehicle: The operator is responsible for knowing the regulations and obeying the law."
"The main thing is to slow down," said Wildlife Enforcement Officer Jon Evans as he prepared for a night patrol on Falls Lake near Raleigh. "You can't operate in the dark at the same speeds you did during the day. It's an entirely different world at night."
Capt. Chris Huebner, who coordinates boating safety programs for the Commission, urged nighttime boaters to:
n Check navigation lights and power sources before launching. Vessels operating at night are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise, typically a configuration of red light on port (left) and green light on starboard (right) with a white light at stern (rear).
n Be safe, be sober. The same legal limits are in effect for intoxicated boat operators as motor vehicle drivers -- .08 blood alcohol concentration. State law also provides a charge of operating a boat while impaired if an operator is "appreciably impaired" even when blood alcohol concentration levels are under .08.
n Wear a personal flotation device, also known as a life preserver, life vest or lifejacket. Children under 13 years old are required by law to wear a proper personal flotation device whenever they are on a recreational vessel that is under way.
For more information on North Carolina boating safety and regulations, visit www.ncwildlife.org or call (919) 707-0031.
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