The pleasures of summer come with risks on the water. Several companies offer safety devices to keep your family safe while on the lakes.
NORMAN LAKE IN CATAWBA, NC – Kicking off summer means thousands of families are leaving to enjoy our lakes and beaches, but with the fun comes some risk.
Safety on the water is crucial. Every summer there are tragic drownings on the waterways or boat emergencies.
In the first half of 2020, there were four drownings in Lake Norman. All of the deceased originally used boat rentals.
Tragedies have long had an impact on the way rental companies on the lake do business.
“We got on the boat and had a blast,” said Ty Walker, who was celebrating his sister’s birthday on the lake on Saturday.
She used Lake Life Rentals, a newer business that was booked over Memorial Day weekend.
“The waves and this boat were swaying, but we had a lot of fun,” Walker said.
The party contained adult drinks, but none of the patrons drove the boat. This was left to a captain provided by the company as part of the deal.
“Everyone’s safety is our number one priority,” said Jessica Thomas who helps run the business.
She said the majority of her charter boats come with a captain. This ensures that no one is drinking or driving and that someone is always there, Thomas said.
“It’s so important to have someone there to make sure they also know what’s going on around you, to make sure you and your group are okay,” she said. added.
It’s a saving gesture, especially when the police explain the main cause of boat emergencies.
“Statistically, the main cause of accidents on the lake is inexperience and congestion,” CMPD Officer Stanley Joyce said at a press conference ahead of the holiday weekend.
Anyone who wishes to operate a boat and who was born on or after January 1, 1988 must have a boater training certificate, per North Carolina law.
However, there are 11 exemptions, including for tenants.
Driving conditions are left entirely to the discretion of rental companies such as Lake Life Rentals and Lake Norman Marina.
“We just removed that gray area and you have to be 26 to charter or operate the boat,” Lake Norman Marina manager Hank Lail said in a 2020 interview.
Safety is also a priority for them, forcing tenants to watch a training video before leaving the docks.
“And we love it when we see people come in and be careful and attentive, especially with the little ones,” Lail added.
Life jackets are also essential, according to state law. You must have one per person inside a boat and children under 13 must have them.