CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Memorial Day marks the traditional start of the summer recreation season. Duke Energy encourages everyone to focus on safety while boating, swimming and enjoying other recreational lake activities.
Each year, thousands of people die or are injured, and millions of dollars of property damage occur because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways. In addition, swimming safety is crucial when in and around area lakes.
"We saw a number of drownings, especially children and teenagers, during the last summer season and even this spring," said Scott Jolley, public safety and recreation planning project manager for Duke Energy. "Folks want to enjoy the lakes, and with warm weather here, we want everyone to be thinking about ways to be safe when theyre boating and swimming this season."
Everyone can make a difference by knowing and following all state-required safety rules and guidelines for boat operation, and ensuring each boat has the required safety equipment for the number of occupants and activities planned.
This includes using life jackets which are essential for water safety, especially for young or inexperienced swimmers, while boating and swimming. Taking swimming lessons is also important.
While enjoying the lakes, Duke Energy reminds boaters and visitors to respect access areas and their neighbors by picking up litter after their day at the lake. Overnight camping, fires, littering, removal of any vegetation and permanent structures are strictly prohibited on any of the lakes public recreation access areas, islands or along the shoreline.
"As you make your Memorial Day plans, help us promote safety when swimming and boating and by keeping the lakes and recreational areas clean," said Jolley. "Taking a few extra moments to consider safety will make a difference."
Please follow these other guidelines and tips while enjoying the lakes:
- Parking at public recreation access areas is permitted in marked spaces only. Vehicles and trailers should not park along the highway. Vehicles found in prohibited areas may be towed without prior notice, at the owner's expense.
- Keep the environment safe and clean by leaving no trace of your visit to the lakes. Handle gasoline and oil with care to avoid spills. Please don't litter and consider recycling plastics, glass, and aluminum containers.
- Always wear a life jacket – one should be available for every passenger. Ensure children are wearing the appropriate size.
- Never swim alone.
- Remember to stay hydrated, and keep children hydrated. Wearing a life jacket for a long period of time can accelerate dehydration.
- Don’t overload a boat. Seats do not indicate capacity.
- Keep track of the weather, especially approaching thunderstorms which can be extremely dangerous. If caught in rough water, keep low in the boat and head the boat’s bow into the waves.
- Alcohol and water don't mix. Alcohol distorts a person's judgment and slows down reaction time. Don’t mix alcohol with boating or swimming.
- Always be attentive on the water, and focus on operating the boat. Remember an accident can happen very quickly. Stay alert for other boaters, skiers and swimmers.
- Use caution upstream and downstream of hydro dams due to strong currents from water releases, and observe posted signage.
- Carry all the proper equipment including a cell phone, drinking water (to prevent dehydration) and develop a float plan to let your friends and family know where you are going and when you will return.
- Keep a life line with a throw ring nearby to throw to a swimmer who appears to be in trouble while on a boat or from the shoreline.
- Take advantage of the boating and swimming expertise that is available. The American Red Cross, SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the NC Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC), local marine commissions and other organizations offer a variety of safe boating and swimming courses. Free boat inspections are also available through local U.S. Coast Guard auxiliaries and Power Squadrons, SCDNR and the NCWRC.
Real-time lake level information, scheduled flow release times and public access locations are available 24/7 at www.duke-energy.com/lakes/, which is configured for smart phones. For questions, please call Duke Energy Lake Services at 1-800-443-5193.
About Duke Energy Carolinas
Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas, renewables and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 20,000 megawatts of owned electric capacity to about 2.5 million customers in a 24,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.