MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Eight people have already died in boating accidents in the Palmetto State in 2010, according to the Department of Natural Resources. That number is already fast approaching the total for 2009 of 11 fatalities.
Public safety officials are urging everyone from beginner boaters to the most experienced to take extra precautions as they get out on South Carolina's waterways.
Murrells Inlet first responders say they are seeing increased activity out on the water compared to years past which can mean more opportunities for accidents.
Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Robert McCullough says it is often the experienced boaters who get into trouble on the water. They say avid boaters sometimes become complacent, let their guard down, and overlook basic safety precautions.
They say the following tips could help save your life on the water:
- Trade out your cheap, orange safety vests for ones you are more likely to wear
- The key wording for the life jacket requirement is "accessible" - keep your jackets in a place you can get to them easily if an emergency strikes.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
- Decide on a designated driver BEFORE you put the motor in the water
- Let someone know where you are and when you expect to be back
- Take along a cell phone in a waterproof bag
- Attach a whistle to your life jacket
- Be prepared for bad weather
- Keep a signaling device like a strobe light or chemical glow stick available
DNR spokesman Steve Pop says boat drivers should also remember that they are responsible for the wake their vessel creates, making them ultimately responsible for any damage it may cause.
He also says many people are unaware that all boaters are required to drop to idle speed when they see law enforcement's blue lights flashing no matter where they are in relation to the vessel.