May 23, 2013

Alcoa Join Forces with Local Law Enforcement Officials to Promote Water Safety on the Yadkin Lakes

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) launched its annual water safety campaign today at High Rock Lake with an emphasis on the dangers of alcohol use while boating. Alcohol is the number one contributing factor in deadly boating accidents.

Alcoa announced that the donation of eight portable, handheld breathalyzers – called intoximeters – to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and sheriff’s departments in Davidson, Montgomery, Rowan and Stanly counties. The portable devices will assist law enforcement officials in cracking down on drinking on the lakes. 
“Alcohol and boating is a deadly combination. By providing law enforcement with more resources to combat the dangers of alcohol, we hope to encourage people to stay away from alcohol when they are on the water,” said Karen Baldwin, a natural resources manager for APGI who leads the company’s water safety efforts.
Alcohol impairs your judgment, vision, balance and coordination. It is illegal to drive a boat, water ski or ride a tube in North Carolina under the influence of alcohol.
Boating Fatalities on the Rise
The latest statistics from the US Coast Guard showed a slight decline in the number of boating accidents in 2011, but a sharp increase in boating fatalities. There were 4,588 boating accidents in the U.S. that resulted in more than 3,000 injuries and 758 deaths. That represents the largest number of boating fatalities reported since 1998 and the 12% increase in deaths (from 672 to 758) was the largest increase since 1997.
In North Carolina, there were 144 boating accidents that resulted in 28 deaths in 2011. The state ranks 5th in the nation in the number of boating fatalities and 7th in the number of boating accidents.
Alcohol is a contributing factor in nearly one out of five boating fatalities.
Alcoa To Provide Free Life Jackets to Children
Alcoa will give away hundreds of free life jackets to children this summer at water safety events planned for Badin Lake and High Rock Lake on Saturday, June 8. It will provide additional life jackets to local law enforcements officers to distribute to boaters who are not carrying an adequate number of floatation devices.
State law requires all children under 13 to wear a life jacket when boating.
“Wearing a life jacket is the single best way to protect yourself when you are on the water,” Baldwin said. “The lakes are a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Thousands of people come here to swim, boat or fish, and we want everyone to ‘play it safe’ by wearing a life jacket and taking other precautions.”
Providing free life jackets is one of several ways that Alcoa works with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and local law enforcement agencies to promote water safety. The company also provides financial support to local sheriff departments for increased patrols of the lakes, and sponsors an advertising campaign to remind people to “Play it Safe on the Lakes.”
Free Boating Safety Courses Available
North Carolina law requires drivers under 26 years old to complete a boating safety course before operating a motor boat (10 horsepower or greater).  The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission offers more than a dozen free classes in Davidson, Montgomery and Rowan counties. A complete list of courses is available online at http://ncpaws.org/boatingsafety/coursesearch.asp