Sheriff Darren E  Campbell - Iredell Co  (3)

As the weather is finally breaking, and we start to spend more time outside, boat owners prepare to hit the water. With 32,510 acres of surface area, Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. From its origin in the north at Lookout Dam to the most southern end, Lake Norman is 34 miles long. There are 520 miles of shoreline on Lake Norman, with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office being responsible for 279 miles of it.

To assist us in keeping you safe on the water, I want to take this opportunity to remind you, and hopefully familiarize you, with some safety tips and rules about boating in North Carolina especially on Lake Norman.

You must display your boat's registration numbers on both sides of the boat. All recreational boats must have at least one Type I, II or III Personal Floatation Device (PFD) for each person on board, and each skier being towed. No person may use a recreational vessel unless each child under 13 years old on board is wearing an appropriate Personal Flotation Device approved by the Coast Guard, unless the child is below deck or the boat is not underway.

Boats must carry a Coast Guard approved “B-1” type fire extinguisher. Inspect all running lights to ensure they are the correct color, and operate properly. You should have a horn, whistle or bell on the boat to use as a sound signaling device.

No person under the age of 14 may operate a personal water craft (PWC). These vessels are otherwise known as “Wave Runners” or Jet Skis”. Identification and boating safety certification paperwork must be produced upon request by an officer.

Unlike a motor vehicle, boats do not handle or stop as you may want them to. Sometimes there are accidents which occur on the water. If you are involved in a boating accident or come upon a boating accident while on the water, you should immediately stop and render aid to any injured person. You must immediately notify law enforcement.

This is why it is of utmost importance you know your location on the water. Have a GPS System, a good map of the lake, look for navigation markers or leave your cellular telephone on as you call for help. Our telecommunicators have the ability to find your location by your cell signal.

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office offered four free boating safety checking stations last year around Lake Norman. We checked all of the mandatory safety equipment, operational lights, and the vessels registration paperwork. Our goal is to educate boaters on the proper, legal and safe way to enjoy their time on the water.

We have four members in the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Lake Patrol Unit. We also subsidize this unit with School Resource Officers in the summer months as well as utilize part-time deputies during peak times on Lake Norman. We have two drones we can also implement to keep an eye on lake traffic patterns, as well as assist in locating stranded boaters or assist in boating accident investigations. We want people to come enjoy Lake Norman, and the surrounding areas and state parks.

If you have any questions about boating safety or boat operations, please feel free to contact me at or call me at the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office at 704-878-3180.

Darren Campbell is the Iredell County Sheriff

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