Officials warn boaters to be mindful over holiday weekend

Officials warn boaters to be mindful over holiday weekend

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - As thousands take to the water Memorial Day weekend, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officers remind everyone to enjoy the weekend in a safe way.

Sgt. Kevin Pardue said when people are boating, many forget the rules of the water.  He said to be sure to have life jackets for everyone on board a boat, and children under 12 should be wearing a life jacket while boarded.  Sgt. Pardue said busy holiday weekends like Memorial Day are not the time to teach people to drive a boat, as the waterways will be highly congested. One of the biggest hazards on the water is inexperienced boat drivers, he said.

Boats also must be registered.  You can find information about boat registration, rules and regulations as well how how to sign up for boater training classes via the SCDNR website.  Click here to be redirected to that website.  People under 16 must have a boater's license if operating a vessel.  Sgt. Pardue suggests everyone, boating veteran or not, take a look at the rules and regulations online. Buoy and navigational lights are important to know, he said.

Before going out. Sgt. Pardue said to check the weather. "Pay close attention to them, and don't get caught in them if you can help it.  If you do happen to get caught in an electrical storm when those sudden summer storms pop up, just get in the lowest place in the boat, make yourself a whole lot less visable.  But if at all possible, get off the water.  Go to a safe area, go to the dock, go to somebody's house, go to a landing...but get off the water if you can during an electrical storm," he said.

Besides water safety, a Charleston boating lawyer suggests all boaters have boat insurance.

"I think you need to have insurance requirements for a boat. And I think they need to be high limits that protect people on boating accidents because we have it all the time where someone gets hurt really badly and there's not a remedy on the other side…and it's really hard," boating attorney Scott Bluestein said.

Bluestein said he believes boating is under-regulated in South Carolina.  He said a popular myth is you can drink and drive a boat, but he warned alcohol and boating don't mix.

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