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'The lake is not like the swimming pool' | Boater safety encouraged in the Charlotte area

With an increase in first-time boaters hitting Charlotte-area lakes, everyone should remember to be safe.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — On Independence Day, thousands of Charlotte-area families headed out to local lakes and beaches. 

It's also the time of year when drownings and boat emergencies increase on the water. Several different agencies pleading boater to stay safe and keep the booze at home. 

"The lake is not like the swimming pool in your backyard or your neighborhood pool, it's a very dangerous place and its very unforgiving," Cornelius Fire Capt. EJ McCormick said.

The latest incident, a 72-year-old man drowned while swimming in Lake Norman in Catawba County on Saturday. Deputies say the man was swimming near a dock when he drowned. First responders recovered his body. His identity has not been released.

"If there was a way we could've avoided that, that would've been best," boater Malak Bazhir said.

Law enforcement patrolled out on the water Sunday, keeping their eyes out for any signs of impaired boat driving. 

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"A lot of our boat accidents, a lot of our deaths and injuries come from impaired driving," officer Matthew Lee of North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said. 

Boaters under the influence would go to a one-stop shop onboard the patrol boat where officers can perform breath tests, blood tests, and field sobriety.

There's also hundreds of thousands of first-time boat owners on July 4, as boat sales skyrocketed during the pandemic. 

"There are some drivers that would create a bunch of wake in the no wake zone," Bazhir said. 

As people hit the water, officials say safety should be people's top priority. 

"Watching where you're going, looking out for other boats as well just making sure everyone is being safe out there on the water," Lee said. 

Life jackets are also a must, there should be a life jacket for every person on the boat. Kids under 13 must be wearing them at all times. 

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Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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