Ahead of July 4th holiday, NC officials stress safety, life jacket use

North Carolina news

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) — The week leading up to July 4th is going to be blisteringly hot and that will encourage lots of people to head to lakes, rivers, pools or the coast.

Whether swimming or boating, safety should be the number one priority — especially if young ones are around.

At Sandling Beach on Falls Lake there are plenty of life jackets available in case adults or children need them to help swim.

In a boat, a life jacket like this is mandatory for anyone 13 or younger.

Friday afternoon, the Sykes family was launching their boat on Falls Lake.

Before they took off, they checked their boat for all the right stuff.

“We’re going to wear lifejackets, and have the required safety safety equipment,” said Bobby Sykes.

His boat is new, but he’s experienced in the water, however a lot of boaters are not.

“Everyone needs to take a boat safety course. It’s a free course,” said Sgt. Steve Stell of the boating division of the Wake County Sherriff’s Office.

Friday the Sykes family pretty much had the lake to themselves, but the sheriffs office says on July 4th the water becomes as crowded as a highway.

“There’s a lot of people out there who’ve had some alcohol and are a little careless, so you have to be extra cautious for the ones who aren’t cautious,” said Sykes.

Children need to taught early to respect the water and be safe in it, that’s why toddler Rhett Dixon’s mom is taking him for daily swimming lessons.

“It teaches them how to float, and roll over on their back and float,” said Gabrielle Dixon.

“We also keep an eye on him when he’s swimming,” she said.

According to the sheriffs office 74% of drownings involve children under the age of 15, so keep an eye on your youngsters.

At a pool you should have the following safety equipment:

A portable phone (to call for help if needed)
A first aid kit
Flotation devices
A hook (to pull someone out of the middle of the pool)
Scissors

“Scissors can be used to cut off clothing or hair if it’s sucked into a pool pump,” said Sgt. Amber Israel of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.

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