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Boating is a pleasant way to spend a warm summer day and enjoy the natural beauty of North Carolina. However, failure to follow safety regulations can result in serious injury or even drowning. 

Before you head out on open water, review these important boating safety tips. 

Wear a life jacket 

Everyone on the watercraft should wear an appropriately sized, properly fitting life jacket. Look for a comfortable, lightweight style with a seal of approval from the United States Coast Guard. Make sure to test the life jacket each year to ensure it is still buoyant. Children and non-swimmers need special vests that keep the head above water. The USCG reported that in 84% of boat accident fatalities in 2017, the victim was not wearing a life jacket. 

Avoid alcohol 

According to the Boat U.S. Foundation, more than half of boating accidents involve alcohol consumption. In North Carolina, boaters who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can receive fines starting at $250 and up to 60 days in jail. 

Take a boating safety course 

The National Safety Council recommends enrollment in a boating safety course given by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators. In this type of class, you will learn the rules of safe boating as well as the North Carolina laws governing the waterways. 

Pack layers 

You should have a bag of extra dry clothes for each person on the boat. If someone becomes submerged after a boating accident, she or he will be at risk for hypothermia. When the weather is cold, wear several layers and dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. The layer closest to your skin should be a fiber that will wick moisture away from the body. 

Shield yourself from the sun 

While you should wear sunscreen anytime you are outdoors, it is especially important while boating in hot weather. Choose a formula of at least SPF 50 and reapply every few hours. You should also wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.