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Wearing a life jacket on a boat is analogous to wearing a safety belt in an automobile; they each save lives in the event of an accident.

In North Carolina, boating is a popular summer activity. North Carolinians are blessed with beautiful rivers, lakes and—of course—miles of world-class ocean shorelines.

But before you and your family test out your sea—or lake—legs, refresh yourself and teach the kids about boating and water sport safety. reports that North Carolina Wildlife Resources Officers had three patrol boats on High Rock Lake in central North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend in order to verify that laws regarding boating safety were being followed.

North Carolina law requires that children younger than 13-years-old must wear life jackets as passengers on boats. Everyone—regardless of their age or swimming skills—has to wear a life jacket on “personal watercrafts” or Jet Skis. Any water vessel must contain life jackets readily available in the event of an emergency.

Beginning May 1, 2010 people under 26-years-old must attend a boating education course if they wish to operate a boat with a motor of ten horsepower or more. They are compelled to carry certification upon completing the course in order to show officers their verification when necessary.

These laws are intended to keep recreational boat users safe as they enjoy the water. The significance of these regulations is all the more powerful as we regret to hear news that a father and son from Hendersonville, North Carolina met their deaths on Lake Adger near Saluda in Polk County. On May 30, 2010 the gentlemen jumped into the lake to save a 5-year-old relative who fell from a pontoon boat into the water. Neither man was wearing a life jacket; neither resurfaced.

The child was wearing a life jacket and survived the tragic accident. Our thoughts are with her and the rest of her family as they mourn the loss of two of their beloveds. If other North Carolinians can remember and follow the safety laws and guidelines put forth by the state as they are out boating this summer, the lives and sad deaths of these two men will not have been in vain.

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